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Medea i 

Circe 14 

The Happiest Girl in the World . 23 

A Castaway 35 

A Soul in Prison 63 

Tired 73 

Coming Home ...... 90 

In an Almshouse ..... 99 

An Inventor . . . . . . 118 

A Dilettante . . . . . .127 

The Manuscript of S. Alexius . .135 


EAD is he? Yes, our stranger guest 
said dead — 

said it by noonday, when it seemed a thing 
most natural and so indifferent 
as if the tale ran that a while ago 
there died a man I talked with a chance hour 
when he by chance was near me. If I spoke 
"Good news for us but ill news for the dead 
when the gods sweep a villain down to them," 
'twas the prompt trick of words, like a pat phrase 
from some one other's song, found on the lips 
and used because 'tis there : for through all day 
the news seemed neither good nor ill to me. 

And now, when day with all its useless talk 
and useless smiles and idiots' prying eyes 


that impotently peer into one's life, 

when day with all its seemly lying shows 

has gone its way and left pleased fools to sleep, 

while weary mummers, taking off the mask, 

discern that face themselves forgot anon 

and, sitting in the lap of sheltering night, 

learn their own secrets from her — even now 

does it seem either good or ill to me? 

No, but mere strange. 

And this most strange of all 
that I care nothing. 

Nay, how wild thought grows. 
Meseems one came and told of Jason's death : 
but 'twas a dream. Else should I, wondering thus, 
reck not of him, nor with the virulent hate 
that should be mine against mine enemy, 
nor with that weakness which sometimes I feared 
should this day make me, not remembering Glauce, 
envy him to death as though he had died mine? 

Can he be dead? It were so strange a world 
with him not in it. 

Dimly I recall 
some prophecy a god breathed by my mouth. 


It could not err. What was it? For I think 
it told his death 1 . 

Has a god come to me? 
Is it thou, my Hecate? How know I all? 
For I know all as if from long ago: 
and I know all beholding instantly. 
Is not that he, arisen through the mists? — 
a lean and haggard man, rough round the eyes, 
dull and with no scorn left upon his lip, 
decayed out of his goodliness and strength; 
a wanned and broken image of a god; 
dim counterfeit of Jason, heavily 
wearing the name of him and memories. 

And lo, he rests with lax and careless limbs 
on the loose sandbed wind-heaped round his ship 
that rots in sloth like him, and props his head 
on a half-buried fallen spar. The sea, 
climbing the beach towards him, seethes and frets, 
and on the verge two sunned and shadowed clouds 
take shapes of notched rock-islands; and his thoughts 
drift languid to the steep Symplegades 
and the sound of waters crashing at their base. 

1 2t> 5', iocnrep eUos, KarOave? kcikos /ca/ccDs, 
'Apyovs Kcipa gov Xec^aVy ireirX-qyixevos. 

Eur. Med. 1386, 7. 
1 — 2 


And now he speaks out to his loneliness 
"I was afraid and careful, but she laughed: 
'Love steers' she said: and when the rocks were far, 
grey twinkling spots in distance, suddenly 
her face grew white, and, looking back to them, 
she said, 'Oh love, a god has whispered me 
'twere well had we died there, for strange mad 

are waiting for us in your Greece': and then 
she tossed her head back, while her brown hair 

gold in the wind and sun, and her face glowed 
with daring beauty, 'What of w r oes', she cried, 
'if only they leave time for love enough?' 
But what a fire and flush! It took one's breath !" 
And then he lay half musing, half adoze, 
shadows of me went misty through his sight. 

And bye and bye he roused and cried " Oh dolt ! 
Glauce was never half so beautiful." 
Then under part-closed lids remembering her, 
"Poor Glauce, a sweet face, and yet methinks 
she might have wearied me:" and suddenly, 
smiting the sand awhirl with his angry hand, 
scorned at himself "What god befooled my wits 
to dream my fancy for her yellow curls 
and milk-white softness subtle policy? 


Wealth and a royal bride: but what beyond? 
Medea, with her skills, her presciences, 
man's wisdom, woman's craft, her rage of love 
that gave her to serve me strength next divine, 
Medea would have made me what I would; 
Glauce but what she could. I schemed amiss 
and earned the curses the gods send on fools. 
Ruined, ruined! A laughing stock to foes! 
No man so mean but he may pity me; 
no man so wretched but will keep aloof 
lest the curse upon me make him wretcheder. 

And lo I see him hide his face 
like a man who'll weep with passion: but to him 
the passion comes not, only slow few tears 
of one too weary. And from the great field 
where the boys race he hears their jubilant shout 
hum through the distance, and he sighs "Ah me! 
she might have spared the children, left me them : — 
no sons, no sons to stand about me now 
and prosper me, and tend me bye and bye 
in faltering age, and keep my name on earth 
when I shall be departed out of sight." 

And the shout hummed louder forth: and 
whirring past 


a screaming sea-bird flapped out to the bay, 

and listlessly he watched it dip and rise 

till it skimmed out of sight, so small a speck 

as a mayfly on the brook; and then he said 

"Fly forth, fly forth, bird, fly to fierce Medea 

where by great ./Egeus she sits queening it, 

belike a joyful mother of new sons; 

tell her she never loved me as she talked, 

else had no wrong at my hand shewn so great: 

tell her that she breaks oaths more than I broke, 

even so much as she seemed to love most — 

she who fits fondling in a husband's arms 

while I am desolate." And again he said 

"My house is perished with me — ruined, mined!" 

At that he rose and, muttering in his teeth 
still "ruined, ruined," slowly paced the sands: 
then stood and, gazing on the ragged hulk, 
cried "Oh loathed tool of fiends, that, through all 

and sundering waters, borest me to Medea, 
rot, rot, accursed thing," and petulant 
pashed at the side — 

Lo, lo! I see it part! 
a tottering spar — it parts, it falls, it strikes! 


He is prone on the sand, the blood wells from 

his brow, 
he moans, he speaks, " Medea's prophecy.'' 
See he has fainted. 

Hush, hush! he has lain 
with death and silence long: now he wakes up — 
"Where is Medea? Let her bind my head." . 
Hush, hush! A sigh — a breath — He is dead. 

What, is it thou? What, thou, this whimpering 

this kind meek coward! Sick for pity art thou? 
Or did the vision scare thee? Out on me! 
do I drivel like a slight disconsolate girl 
wailing her love? 

No, not one foolish tear 
that shamed my cheek welled up for any grief 
at his so pitiful lone end. The touch 
of ancient memories and the woman's trick 
of easy weeping took me unawares: 
but grief! Why should I grieve? 

And yet for this, 
that he is dead. He should still pine and dwine, 


hungry for his old lost strong food of life 

vanished with me, hungry for children's love, 

hungry for me. Ever to think of me — 

with love, with hate, what care I? hate is love — 

Ever to think and long. Oh it was well! 

Yea, my new marriage hope has been achieved : 

for he did count me happy, picture me 

happy with ^Egeus; he did dream of me 

as all to ^Egeus that I was to him, 

and to him nothing; and did yearn for me 

and know me lost — we two so far apart 

as dead and living, I an envied wife 

and he alone and childless. Jason, Jason, 

come back to earth; live, live for my revenge. 

But lo the man is dead: I am forgotten. 
Forgotten; something goes from life in that — 
as if oneself had died, when the half self 
of one's true living time has slipped away 
from reach of memories, has ceased to know 
that such a woman is. 

A wondrous thing 
to be so separate having been so near — 
near by hate last and once by so strong love. 
Would love have kept us near if he had died 
in the good days? Tush, I should have died too: 


we should have gone together, hand in hand, 
and made dusk Hades glorious each to each. 

Ah me, if then when through the fitful seas 
we saw the great rocks glimmer, and the crew 
howled "We are lost! lo the Symplegades!" 
too late to shun them, if but then some wave, 
our secret friend, had dashed us from our course, 
sending us to be shivered at the base, 
well, well indeed! And yet what say I there? 
Ten years together were they not worth cost 
of all the anguish? Oh me, how I loved him! 
Why did I not die loving him? 

What thou! 
Have the dead no room, or do they drive thee forth 
loathing thee near them? Dost thou threaten me? 
Why, so 1 saw thee last, and was not scared: 
think not to scare me now; I am no babe 
to shiver at an unavailing shade. 
Go, go, thou canst not curse me, none will hear: 
the gods remember justice. Wrongs ! thy wrongs ! 
the vengeance, ghost! What hast thou to avenge 
as I have? Lo, thy meek-eyed Glauce died, 
and thy king-kinsman Creon died: but I, 
I live what thou hast made me. 


Oh smooth adder, 
who with fanged kisses changedst my natural blood 
to venom in me, say, didst thou not find me 
a grave and simple girl in a still home, 
learning my spells for pleasant services 
or to make sick beds easier? With me went 
the sweet sound of friends' voices praising me: 
all faces smiled on me, even lifeless things 
seemed glad because of me; and I could smile 
to every face, to everything, to trees, 
to skies and waters, to the passing herds, 
to the small thievish sparrows, to the grass 
with sunshine through it, to the weed's bold 

flowers : 
for all things glad and harmless seemed my kin, 
and all seemed glad and harmless in the world. 
Thou cam'st, and from the day thou, finding me 
in Hecate's dim grove to cull my herbs, 
didst burn my cheeks with kisses hot and strange, 
the curse of thee compelled me. Lo I am 
the wretch thou say'st; but wherefore? by whose 

Who, binding me with dreadful marriage oaths 
in the midnight temple, led my treacherous flight 
from home and father? Whose voice when I turned, 
desperate to save thee, on my own young brother, 
my so loved brother, whose voice as I smote 


nerved me, cried "Brave Medea"? For whose ends 
did I decoy the credulous girls, poor fools, 
to slay their father? When have I been base, 
when cruel, save for thee, until — Man, man, 
wilt thou accuse my guilt? Whose is my guilt? 
mine or thine, Jason? Oh, soul of my crimes, 
how shall I pardon thee for what I am? 

Never. And if, with the poor womanish heart 
that for the loving's sake will still love on, 
I could let such a past wane as a dream 
and turn to thee at waking — turn to thee! 
I, put aside like some slight purchased slave 
who pleased thee and then tired, still turn to thee ! — • 
yet never, not if thou and I could live 
thousands of years and all thy years were pain 
and all my years were to behold thy pain, 
never could I forgive thee for my boys; 
never could I look on this hand of mine 
that slew them and not hate thee. Childless thou, 
what is thy childlessness to mine? Go, go, 
thou foolish angry ghost, what wrongs hast thou? 
would I could wrong thee more. Come thou some- 
and see me happy. 

Dost thou mock at me 


with thy cold smiling? Aye, can I not love? 
What then? am I not folded round with love, 
with a life's whole of love? There doth no thought 
come near to ^Egeus save what is of me: 
am I no happy wife? And I go proud, 
and treasure him for noblest of the world: 
am I no happy wife? 

Dost mock me still? 
My children is it? Are the dead so wise? 
Why, who told thee my transport of despair 
when from the Sun who willed me not to die 
nor creep away, sudden and too late came 
the winged swift car that could have saved them, 

from thee and from their foes? Tush, 'twas best so. 
If they had lived, sometimes thou hadst had hope: 
for thou wouldst still have said "I have two sons," 
and dreamed perchance they'd bring thee use at last 
and build thy greatness higher: but now, now, 
thou hast died shamed and childless, none to keep 
thy name and memory fresh upon the earth, 
none to make boast of thee "My father did it." 

Yea, 'twas best so: my sons, we are avenged. 
Thou, mock me not. What if I have ill dreams 
to see them loathe me, fly from me in dread, 


when I would feed my hungry mouth with kisses? 
what if I moan in tossing fever thirsts, 
crying for them whom I shall have no more, 
here nor among the dead, w T ho never more, 
here nor among the dead, will smile to me 
with young lips prattling "Mother, mother dear"? 
what if I turn sick when the women pass 
that lead their boys, and hate a child's young face? 
what if — 

Go, go, thou mind'st me of my sons, 
and then I hate thee worse; go to thy grave 
by which none weeps. I have forgotten thee. 


I HE sun drops luridly into the west; 
darkness has raised her arms to draw 
him down 

before the time, not waiting as of wont 
till he has come to her behind the sea; 
and the smooth waves grow sullen in the gloom 
and wear their threatening purple; more and more 
the plain of waters sways and seems to rise 
convexly from its level of the shores; 
and low dull thunder rolls along the beach: 
there will be storm at last, storm, glorious storm. 

Oh welcome, welcome, though it rend my bowers, 
scattering my blossomed roses like the dust, 
splitting the shrieking branches, tossing down 
my riotous vines with their young half-tinged 

CIRCE. 15 

like smair round amethysts or beryls strung 
tumultously in clusters, though it sate 
its ravenous spite among my goodliest pines 
standing there round and still against the sky 
that makes blue lakes between their sombre tufts, 
or harry from my silvery olive slopes 
some hoary king whose gnarled fantastic limbs 
wear crooked armour of a thousand years; 
though it will hurl high on my flowery shores 
the hostile wave that rives at the poor sward 
and drags it down the slants, that swirls its foam 
over my terraces, shakes their firm blocks 
of great bright marbles into tumbled heaps, 
and makes my pleached and mossy labyrinths, 
where the small odorous blossoms grow like stars 
strewn in the milky way, a briny marsh. 
What matter? let it come and bring me change, 
breaking the sickly sweet monotony. 

I am too weary of this long bright calm; 
always the same blue sky, always the sea 
the same blue perfect likeness of the sky, 
one rose to match the other that has waned, 
to-morrow's dawn the twin of yesterday's; 
and every night the ceaseless crickets chirp 
the same long joy and the late strain of birds 
repeats their strain of all the even month; 

1 6 CIRCE, 

and changelessly the petty plashing surfs 
bubble their chiming burden round the stones; 
dusk after dusk brings the same languid trance 
upon the shadowy hills, and in the fields 
the waves of fireflies come and go the same, 
making the very flash of light and stir 
vex one like dronings of the spinning wheel. 

Give me some change. Must life be only sweet, 
all honey-pap as babes would have their food? 
And, if my heart must always be adrowse 
in a hush of stagnant sunshine, give me then 
something outside me stirring; let the storm 
break up the sluggish beauty, let it fall 
beaten below the feet of passionate winds, 
and then to-morrow waken jubilant 
in a new birth: let me see subtle joy 
of anguish and of hopes, of change and growth. 

What fate is mine who, far apart from pains 
and fears and turmoils of the cross-grained world, 
dwell, like a lonely god, in a charmed isle 
where I am first and only, and, like one 
who should love poisonous savours more than mead, 
long for a tempest on me and grow sick 
of resting, and divine free carelessness! 
Oh me, I am a woman, not a god; 

CIRCE. 17 

yea, those who tend me even are more than I, 
my nymphs who have the souls of flowers and birds 
singing and blossoming immortally. 

Ah me! these love a day and laugh again, 
and loving, laughing, find a full content; 
but I know nought of peace, and have not loved. 

Where is my love? Does some one cry for me, 
not knowing whom he calls? does his soul cry 
for mine to grow beside it, grow in it? 
does he beseech the gods to give him me, 
the one unknown rare woman by whose side 
no other woman, thrice as beautiful, 
should once seem fair to him ; to whose voice heard 
in any common tones no sweetest sound 
of love made melody on silver lutes, 
or singing like Apollo's when the gods 
grow pale with happy listening, might be peered 
for making music to him; whom once found 
there will be no more seeking anything? 

Oh love, oh love, oh love, art not yet come 
out of the waiting shadows into life? 
art not yet come after so many years 
that I have longed for thee? Come! I am here. 

i8 CIRCE. 

Not yet. For surely I should feel a sound 
of his far answering, if now in the world 
he sought me who will seek me — Oh ye gods 
will he not seek me? Is it all a dream? 
will there be never never such a man? 
will there be only these, these bestial things 
who wallow in my styes, or mop and mow 
among the trees, or munch in pens and byres, 
or snarl and filch behind their wattled coops; 
these things who had believed that they were men ? 

Nay but he will come. Why am I so fair, 
and marvellously minded, and with sight 
which flashes suddenly on hidden things, 
as the gods see who do not need to look? 
why wear I in my eyes that stronger power 
than basilisks, whose gaze can only kill, 
to draw men's souls to me to live or die 
as I would have them? why am I given pride 
which yet longs to be broken, and this scorn 
cruel and vengeful for the lesser men 
who meet the smiles I waste for lack of him 
and grow too glad? why am I who I am, 
but for the sake of him whom fate will send 
one day to be my master utterly, 
that he should take me, the desire of all, 
whom only he in the world could bow to him? 

CIRCE. 19 

Oh sunlike glory of pale glittering hairs, 
bright as the filmy wires my weavers take 
to make me golden gauzes; oh deep eyes, 
darker and softer than the bluest dusk 
of August violets, darker and deep 
like crystal fathomless lakes in summer noons; 
oh sad sweet longing smile; oh lips that tempt 
my very self to kisses; oh round cheeks, 
tenderly radiant with the even flush 
of pale smoothed coral; perfect lovely face 
answering my gaze from out this fleckless pool; 
wonder of glossy shoulders, chiselled limbs; 
should I be so your lover as I am, 
drinking an exquisite joy to watch you thus 
in all a hundred changes through the day, 
but that I love you for him till he comes, 
but that my beauty means his loving it? 

Oh, look! a speck on this side of the sun, 
coming— yes, coming with the rising wind 
that frays the darkening cloud-wrack on the verge 
and in a little while will leap abroad, 
spattering the sky with rushing blacknesses, 
dashing the hissing mountainous waves at the stars. 
Twill drive me that black speck a shuddering hulk 
caught in the buffeting waves, dashed impotent 
from ridge to ridge, will drive it in the night 


with that dull jarring crash upon the beach, 

and the cries for help and the cries of fear and hope. 

And then to-morrow they will thoughtfully, 
with grave low voices, count their perils up, 
and thank the gods for having let them live, 
and tell of wives or mothers in their homes, 
and children, who would have such loss in them 
that they must weep, and may be I weep too, 
with fancy of the weepings had they died. 
And the next morrow they will feel their ease 
and sigh with sleek content, or laugh elate, 
tasting delights of rest and revelling, 
music and perfumes, joyaunce for the eyes 
of rosy faces and luxurious pomps, 
the savour of the banquet and the glow 
and fragrance of the wine-cup ; and they'll talk 
how good it is to house in palaces 
out of the storms and struggles, and what luck 
strewed their good ship on our accessless coast. 
Then the next day the beast in them will wake, 
and one will strike and bicker, and one swell 
with puffed up greatness, and one gibe and strut 
in apish pranks, and one will line his sleeve 
with pilfered booties, and one snatch the gems 
out of the carven goblets as they pass, 
one will grow mad with fever of the wine, 

CIRCE. 7i 

and one will sluggishly besot himself, 
and one be lewd, and one be gluttonous; 
and I shall sickly look, and loathe them all. 

Oh my rare cup! my pure and crystal cup, 
with not one speck of colour to make false 
the passing lights, or flaw to make them swerve! 
My cup of Truth! How the lost fools will laugh 
and thank me for my boon, as if I gave 
some momentary flash of the gods' joy, 
to drink where I have drunk and touch the touch 
of my lips with their own! Aye, let them touch. 

Too cruel am I? And the silly beasts, 
crowding around me when I pass their way, 
glower on me and, although they love me still, 
(with their poor sorts of love such as they could,) 
call wrath and vengeance to their humid eyes 
to scare me into mercy, or creep near 
with piteous fawnings, supplicating bleats. 
Too cruel? Did I choose them what they are? 
or change them from themselves by poisonous charms? 
But any draught, pure water, natural wine, 
out of my cup, revealed them to themselves 
and to each other. Change? there was no change; 
only disguise gone from them unawares: 
and had there been one right true man of them 

22 CIRCE. 

he would have drunk the draught as I had drunk, 
and stood unchanged, and looked me in the eyes, 
abashing me before him. But these things — 
why, which of them has even shown the kind 
of some one nobler beast? Pah, yapping wolves 
and pitiless stealthy wild-cats, curs and apes 
and gorging swine and slinking venomous snakes 
all false and ravenous and sensual brutes 
that shame the Earth that bore them, these they are. 

Lo, lo! the shivering blueness darting forth 
on half the heavens, and the forked thin fire 
strikes to the sea: and hark, the sudden voice 
that rushes through the trees before the storm, 
and shuddering of the branches. Yet the sky 
is blue against them still, and early stars 
glimmer above the pine-tops; and the air 
clings faint and motionless around me here. 

Another burst of flame — and the black speck 
shows in the glare, lashed onwards. It were well 
I bade make ready for our guests to-night. 


WEEK ago ; only a little week : 
it seems so much much longer, though 
that day 

is every morning still my yesterday; 

as all my life 'twill be my yesterday, 

for all my life is morrow to my love. 

Oh fortunate morrow ! Oh sweet happy love ! 

A week ago ; and I am almost glad 
to have him now gone for this little while, 
that I may think of him and tell myself 
what to be his means, now that I am his, 
and know if mine is love enough for him, 
and make myself believe it all is true. 

A week ago; and it seems like a life, 
and I have not yet learned to know myself: 


I am so other than I was, so strange, 
grown younger and grown older all in one; 
and I am not so sad and not so gay; 
and I think nothing, only hear him think. 

That morning, waking, I remembered him 
"Will he be here to-day? he often comes; — 
and is it for my sake or to kill time?" 
and, wondering " Will he come ? " I chose the dress 
he seemed to like the best, and hoped for him ; 
and did not think I could quite love him yet. 
And did I love him then with all my heart? 
or did I wait until he held my hands 
and spoke "Say, shall it be?" and kissed my brow, 
and I looked at him and he knew it all? 

And did I love him from the day we met? 
but I more gladly danced with some one else 
who waltzed more smoothly and was merrier : 
and did I love him when he first came here ? 
but I more gladly talked with some one else 
whose words were readier and who sought me more. 
When did I love him? How did it begin? 

The small green spikes of snowdrops in the spring 
are there one morning ere you think of them ; 
still we may tell what morning they pierced up : 


June rosebuds stir and open stealthily, 
and every new blown rose is a surprise; 
still we can date the day when one unclosed: 
but how can I tell when my love began? 

Oh, was it like the young pale twilight star 
that quietly breaks on the vacant sky, 
is sudden there and perfect while you watch, 
and, though you watch, you have not seen it dawn, 
the star that only waited and awoke? 

But he knows when he loved me; for he says 
the first time we had met he told a friend 
"The sweetest dewy daisy of a girl, 
but not the solid stuff to make a wife;" 
and afterwards the first time he was here, 
when I had slipped away into our field 
to watch alone for sunset brightening on 
and heard them calling me, he says he stood 
and saw me come along the coppice walk 
beneath the green and sparkling arch of boughs, 
and, while he watched the yellow lights that played 
with the dim flickering shadows of the leaves 
over my yellow hair and soft pale dress, 
flitting across me as I flitted through, 
he whispered inly, in so many words, 
"I see my wife; this is my wife who comes, 


and seems to bear the sunlight on with her:" 
and that was when he loved me, so he says. 

Yet is he quite sure? was it only then? 
and had he had no thought which I could feel? 
for why was it I knew that he would watch, 
and all the while thought in my silly heart, 
as I advanced demurely, it was well 
I had on the pale dress with sweeping folds 
which took the light and shadow tenderly, 
and that the sunlights touched my hair and cheek, 
because he'd note it all and care for it? 

Oh vain and idle poor girl's heart of mine, 
content with that coquettish mean content! 
He, with his mans straight purpose, thinking "wife," 
and I but that 'twas pleasant to be fair 
and that 'twas pleasant he should count me fair. 
But oh, to think he should be loving me 
and I be no more moved out of myself! 
The sunbeams told him, but they told me nought, 
except that maybe I was looking well. 
And oh had 1 but known! Why did no bird, 
trilling its own sweet lovesong, as I passed, 
so musically marvellously glad, 
sing one for me too, sing me " It is he," 
sing "Love him," and "You love him: it is he," 


that I might then have loved him when he loved, 
that one dear moment might be date to both? 

And must I not be glad he hid his thought 
and did not tell me then, when it was soon 
and I should have been startled, and not known 
how he is just the one man I can love, 
and, only with some pain lest he were pained, 
and nothing doubting, should have answered "No." 
How strange life is! I should have answered "No." 
Oh, can I ever be half glad enough 
he is so wise and patient and could wait! 

He waited as you wait the reddening fruit 
which helplessly is ripening on the tree, 
and not because it tries or longs or wills, 
only because the sun will shine on it : 
but he who waited was himself that sun. 

Oh was it worth the waiting? was it worth? 
For I am half afraid love is not love, 
this love which only makes me rest in him 
and be so happy and so confident, 
this love which makes me pray for longest days 
that I may have them all to use for him, 
this love which almost makes me yearn for pain 
that I might have borne something for his sake, 
this love which I call love, is less than love. 


Where are the fires and fevers and the pangs? 

where is the anguish of too much delight, 

and the delirious madness at a kiss, 

the flushing and the paling at a look, 

and passionate ecstasy of meeting hands? 

where is the eager weariness at time 

that will not bate a single measured hour 

to speed to us the far-off wedding day? 

I am so calm and wondering, like a child 

who, led by a firm hand it knows and trusts 

along a stranger country beautiful 

with a bewildering beauty to new eyes 

if they be wise to know what they behold, 

finds newness everywhere but no surprise, 

and takes the beauty as an outward part 

of being led so kindly by the hand. 

I am so cold: is mine but a child's heart, 

and not a woman's fit for such a man? 

Alas am I too cold, am I too dull, 

can I not love him as another could? 

And oh, if love be fire, what love is mine 

that is but like the pale subservient moon 

who only asks to be earth's minister? 

And, oh, if love be whirlwind, what is mine 

that is but like a little even brook 

which has no aim but flowing to the sea, 

and sings for happiness because it flows? 


Ah well, I would that I could love him more 
and not be only happy as I am; 
I would that I could love him to his worth, 
with that forgetting all myself in him, 
that subtle pain of exquisite excess, 
that momentary infinite sharp joy, 
I know by books but cannot teach my heart: 
and yet I think my love must needs be love, 
since he can read me through — oh happy strange, 
my thoughts that were my secrets all for me 
grown instantly his open easy book! — 
since he can read me through, and is content. 

And yesterday, when they all went away, 
save little Amy with her daisy chains, 
and left us in that shadow of tall ferns, 
and the child, leaning on me, fell asleep, 
and I, tired by the afternoon long walk, 
said "I could almost gladly sleep like her," 
did he not answer, drawing down my head, 
" Sleep, darling, let me see you rest on me," • 
and when the child, awaking, wakened me, 
did he not say "Dear, you have made me glad, 
for, seeing you so sleeping peacefully, 
I feel that you do love me utterly, 
no questionings, no regrettings, but at rest." 


Oh yes, my good true darling, you spoke well 
"No questionings, no regrettings, but at rest:" 
what should I question, what should I regret, 
now I have you who are my hope and rest? 

I am the feathery wind- wafted seed 
that flickered idly half a merry morn, 
now thralled into the rich life-giving earth 
to root and bud and waken into leaf 
and make it such poor sweetness as I may; 
the prisoned seed that never more shall float 
the frolic playfellow of summer winds 
and mimic the free changeful butterfly; 
the prisoned seed that prisoned finds its life 
and feels its pulses stir, and grows, and grows. 
Oh love, who gathered me into yourself, 
oh love, I am at rest in you, and live. 

And shall I for so many coming days 
be flower and sweetness to him? Oh pale flower, 
grow, grow, and blossom out, and fill the air, 
feed on his richness, grow, grow, blossom out, 
and fill the air, and be enough for him. 

Oh crystal music of the air-borne lark, 
so falling, nearer, nearer, from the sky, 
are you a message to me of dear hopes? 


oh trilling gladness, flying down to earth, 
have you brought answer of sweet prophecy? 
have you brought answer to the thoughts in me? 
Oh happy answer, and oh happy thoughts! 
and which is the bird's carol, which my heart's? 

My love, my love, my love! And I shall be 
so much to him, so almost everything: 
and I shall be the friend whom he will trust, 
and I shall be the child whom he will teach, 
and I shall be the servant he will praise, 
and I shall be the mistress he will love, 
and I shall be his wife. Oh days to come, 
will ye not pass like gentle rhythmic steps 
that fall to sweetest music noiselessly? 

But I have known the lark's song half sound sad, 
and I have seen the lake, which rippled sun, 
toss dimmed and purple in a sudden wind; 
and let me laugh a moment at my heart 
that thinks the summer-time must all be fair, 
that thinks the good days always must be good: 
yes let me laugh a moment — may be weep. 

But no, but no, not laugh; for through my joy 
I have been wise enough to know the while 
some tears and some long hours are in all lives, 


in every promised land some thorn-plants grow, 
some tangling weeds as well as laden vines: 
and no, not weep; for is not my land fair, 
my land of promise flushed with fruit and bloom ? 
and who would weep for fear of scattered thorns ? 
and very thorns bear oftentimes sweet fruits. 

Oh the black storm that breaks across the lake 
ruffles the surface, leaves the deeps at rest — 
deep in our hearts there always will be rest: 
oh summer storms fall sudden as they rose, 
the peaceful lake forgets them while they die — 
our hearts will always have it summer time. 

All rest, all summer time. My love, my love, 
I know it will be so; you are so good, 
and I, near you, shall grow at last like you; 
and you are tender, patient — oh I know 
you will bear with me, help me, smile to me, 
and let me make you happy easily; 
and I, what happiness could I have more 
than that dear labour of a happy wife? 
I would not have another. Is it wrong, 
and is it selfish that I cannot wish, 
that I, who yet so love the clasping hand 
and innocent fond eyes of little ones, 
I cannot wish that which I sometimes read 


is women's dearest wish hid in their love, 

to press a baby creature to my breast ? 

Oh is it wrong? I would be all for him, 

not even children coming 'twixt us two 

to call me from his service to serve them ; 

and maybe they would steal too much of love, 

for, since I cannot love him now enough, 

what would my heart be halved? or would it grow? 

But he perhaps would love me something less, 

finding me not so always at his side. 

Together always, that was what he said; 
together always. Oh dear coming days ! 
O dear dear present days that pass too fast, 
although they bring such rainbow morrows on ! 
that pass so fast, and yet, I know not why, 
seem always to encompass so much time. 
And I should fear I were too happy now, 
and making this 1 poor world too much my Heaven, 
but that I feel God nearer and it seems 
as if I had learned His love better too. 

So late already ! The sun dropping down, 
and under him the first long line of red — ■ 
my truant should be here again by now, 
is come maybe. I will not seek him, I ; 
he would be vain and think I cared too much ; 



I will wait here, and he shall seek for me, 

and I will carelessly Oh his dear step — 

he sees me, he is coming \ my own love ! 


OOR little diary, with its simple thoughts, 
its good resolves, its " Studied French an 
"Read Modern History," "Trimmed up my grey 

" Darned stockings," " Tatted," " Practised my new 

"Went to the daily service," "Took Bess soup," 
"Went out to tea." Poor simple diary! 
and did / write it ? Was I this good girl, 
this budding colourless young rose of home ? 
did I so live content in such a life, 
seeing no larger scope, nor asking it, 
than this small constant round — old clothes to 



new clothes to make, then go and say my prayers, 

or carry soup, or take a little walk 

and pick the ragged-robins in the hedge? 

Then for ambition, (was there ever life 

that could forego that?) to improve my mind 

and know French better and sing harder songs; 

for gaiety, to go, in my best white 

well washed and starched and freshened with new 

and take tea out to meet the clergyman. 
No wishes and no cares, almost no hopes, 
only the young girl's hazed and golden dreams 
that veil the Future from her. 

So long since : 
and now it seems a jest to talk of me 
as if I could be one with her, of me 
who am me. 

And what is that? My looking-glass 
answers it passably; a woman sure, 
no fiend, no slimy thing out of the pools, 
a woman with a ripe and smiling lip 
that has no venom in its touch I think, 
with a white brow on which there is no brand ; 
a woman none dare call not beautiful, 
not womanly in every woman's grace. 


Aye let me feed upon my beauty thus, 
be glad In it like painters when they see 
at last the face they dreamed but could not find 
look from their canvass on them, triumph in it, 
the dearest thing I have. Why, 'tis my all, 
let me make much of it : is it not this, 
this beauty, my own curse at once and tool 
to snare men's souls — (I know what the good say 
of beauty in such creatures) — is is not this 
that makes me feel myself a woman still, 
some little pride, some little — 

Here's a jest ! 
what word will fit the sense but modesty? 
A wanton I but modest ! 

Modest, true; 
I'm not drunk in the streets, ply not for hire 
at infamous corners with my likenesses 
of the humbler kind; yes, modesty's my word — 
'twould shape my mouth well too, I think I'll try : 
"Sir, Mr What-you-will, Lord Who-knows-what, 
my present lover or my next to come, 
value me at my worth, fill your purse full, 
for I am modest; yes, and honour me 
as though your schoolgirl sister or your wife 
could let her skirts brush mine or talk of me ; 


for I am modest." 

but yet, but yet- 

Well, I flout myself: 

Fie, poor fantastic fool, 
why do I play the hypocrite alone, 
who am no hypocrite with others by? 
where should be my " But yet " ? I am that thing 
called half a dozen dainty names, and none 
dainty enough to serve the turn and hide 
the one coarse English worst that lurks beneath: 
just that, no worse, no better. 

And, for me, 
I say let no one be above her trade; 
I own my kindredship with any drab 
who sells herself as I, although she crouch 
in fetid garrets and I have a home 
all velvet and marqueterie and pastilles, 
although she hide her skeleton in rags 
and I set fashions and wear cobweb lace : 
the difference lies but in my choicer ware, 
that I sell beauty and she ugliness; 
our traffic's one — I'm no sweet slaver-tongue 
to gloze upon it and explain myself 
a sort of fractious angel misconceived — 


our traffic's one : I own it. And what then ? 
I know of worse that are called honourable. 
Our lawyers, who, with noble eloquence 
and virtuous outbursts, lie to hang a man, 
or lie to save him, which way goes the fee : 
our preachers, gloating on your future hell 
for not believing what they doubt themselves : 
our doctors, who sort poisons out by chance, 
and wonder how they'll answer, and grow rich: 
our journalists, whose business is to fib 
and juggle truths and falsehoods to and fro: 
our tradesmen, who must keep unspotted names 
and cheat the least like stealing that they can : 

our all of them, the virtuous worthy men 

who feed on the world's follies, vices, wants, 
and do their businesses of lies and shams 
honestly, reputably, while the world 
claps hands and cries "good luck," which of their 

their , honourable trades, barefaced like mine, 
all secrets brazened out, would shew more white ? 

And whom do I hurt more than they ? as much ? 
The wives ? Poor fools, what do I take from them 
worth crying for or keeping? If they knew 
what their fine husbands look like seen by eyes 
that may perceive there are more men than one I, 


But, if they can, let them just take the pains 

to keep them : 'tis not such a mighty task 

to pin an idiot to your apron-string; 

and wives have an advantage over us, 

(the good and blind ones have), the smile or pout 

leaves them no secret nausea at odd times. 

Oh they could keep their husbands if they cared, 

but 'tis an easier life to let them go, 

and whimper at it for morality. 

Oh ! those shrill carping virtues, safely housed 
from reach of even a smile that should put red 
on a decorous cheek, who rail at us 
with such a spiteful scorn and rancourousness, 
(which maybe is half envy at the heart), 
and boast themselves so measurelessly good 
and us so measurelessly unlike them, 
what is their wondrous merit that they stay 
in comfortable homes whence not a soul 
has ever thought of tempting .them, and wear 
no kisses but a husband's upon lips 
there is no other man desires to kiss — 
refrain in fact from sin impossible? 
How dare they hate us so? what have they done, 
what borne, to prove them other than we are? 
What right have they to scorn us — glass-case saints, 
Dianas under lock and key — what right 


more than the well-fed helpless barn-door fowl 
to scorn the larcenous wild-birds ? 

Pshaw, let be ! 
Scorn or no scorn, what matter for their scorn? 
I have outfaced my own — that's harder work 
Aye let their virtuous malice dribble on — 
mock snowstorms ort the stage — I'm proof long 

since : 
I have looked coolly on my what and why, 
and I accept myself. 

Oh I'll endorse 
the shamefullest revilings mouthed at me, 
cry " True ! Oh perfect picture ! Yes, that's I ! " 
and add a telling blackness here and there, 
and then dare swear you, every nine of ten, 
my judges and accusers, I'd not change 
my conscience against yours, you who tread out 
your devil's pilgrimage along the roads 
that take in church and chapel, and arrange 
a roundabout and decent way to hell. 

Well, mine's a short way and a merry one: 
so says my pious hash of ohs and ahs, 
choice texts and choicer threats, appropriate names, 
(Rahabs and Jezebels), some fierce Tartuffe 


hurled at me through the post. We had rare fun 
over that tract digested with champagne. 
Where is it ? where's my rich repertory 
of insults biblical? i I prey on souls' — 
only my men have oftenest none I think : 
' / snare the simple ones ' — but in these days 
there seem to be none simple and none snared, 
and most men have their favourite sinnings planned 
to do them civilly and sensibly : 
'/ braid my hair' — but braids are out of date: 
1 / paint my cheeks' — I always wear them pale: 
'/— ' 

Pshaw ! the trash is savourless to-day : 
one cannot laugh alone. There, let it burn. 
What, does the windy dullard think one needs 
his wisdom dove-tailed on to Solomon's, 
his threats out-threatening God's, to teach the news 
that those who need not sin have safer souls? 
We know it, but we've bodies to save too; 
and so we earn our living. 

Well lit, tract! 
at least you've made me a good leaping blaze. 
Up, up, how the flame shoots ! and now 'tis dead. - 
Oh proper finish, preaching to the last — 
no such bad omen either; sudden end, 


and no sad withering horrible old age. 

How one would clutch at youth to hold it tight ! 

and then to know it gone, to see it gone, 

be taught its absence by harsh careless looks, 

to live forgotten, solitary, old — 

the cruellest word that ever woman learns. 

Old — that's to be nothing, or to be at best 

a blurred memorial that in better days 

there was a woman once with such a name. 

No, no, I could not bear it: death itself 

shews kinder promise even death itself, 

since it must come one day — 

Oh this grey gloom ! 
This rain, rain, rain, what wretched thoughts it 

brings ! 
Death : I'll not think of it. 

Will no one come? 
'Tis dreary work alone. 

Why did I read 
that silly diary? Now, sing song, ding dong, 
come the old vexing echoes back again, 
church bells and nursery good-books, back again 
upon my shrinking ears that had forgotten — 
I hate the useless memories : 'tis fools' work 


singing the hacknied dirge of ' better days : ' 
best take Now kindly, give the past good-bye, 
whether it were a better or a worse. 

Yes, yes, I listened to the echoes once, 
the echoes and the thoughts from the old days. 
The worse for me : I lost my richest friend, 
and that was all the difference. For the world 
I would not have that flight known. How they'd 

roar : 
"What! Eulalie, when she refused us all, 
'ill 3 and ' away,' was doing Magdalene, 
tears, ashes, and her Bible, and then off 
to hide her in a Refuge... for a week!" 

A wild whim that, to fancy I could change 
my new self for my old, because I wished ! 
Since then, when in my languid days there comes 
that craving, like homesickness, to go back 
to the good days, the dear old stupid days, 
to the quiet and the innocence, I know 
'tis a sick fancy and try palliatives. 

What is it? You go back to the old home, 
and 'tis not your home, has no pla'c^'for you, 
and, if it had, you could not fit you in it. 
And could I fit me to my former self? 


If I had had the wit, like some of us, 
to sow my wild-oats into three per cents, 
could I not find me shelter in the peace 
of some far nook where none of them would come, 
nor whisper travel from this scurrilous world, 
that gloats and moralizes through its leers, 
to blast me with my fashionable shame? 
There I might — oh my castle in the clouds ! 
and where's its rent? — but there, were there a 

I might again live the grave blameless life 
among such simple pleasures, simple cares : 
but could they be my pleasures, be my cares? 
The blameless life, but never the content — 
never. How could I henceforth be content 
in any life but one that sets the brain 
in a hot merry fever with its stir? 
what would there be in quiet rustic days, 
each like the other, full of time to think, 
to keep one bold enough to live at all ? 
Quiet is hell, I say — as if a woman 
could bear to sit alone, quiet all day, 
and loathe herself, and sicken on her thoughts. 

They tried it at the Refuge, and I failed : 
I could not bear it. Dreary hideous room, 
coarse pittance, prison rules, one might bear these 


and keep one's purpose; but so much alone, 
and then made faint and weak and fanciful 
by change from pampering to half-famishing — 
good God, what thoughts come ! Only one week 

and 'twould have ended : but in one day more 
I must have killed myself. And I loathe death, 
the dreadful foul corruption, with who knows 
what future after it. 

Well, I came back, 
back to my slough. Who says I had my choice ? 
Could I stay there to die of some mad death? 
and if I rambled out into the world, 
sinless but penniless, what else were that 
but slower death, slow pining shivering death 
by misery and hunger ? Choice ! what choice 
of living well or ill? could I have that? 
And who would give it me ? I think indeed 
if some kind hand, a woman's — I hate men — 
had stretched itself to help me to firm ground, 
taken a chance and risked my falling back, 
I could have gone my way not falling back : 
but, let her be all brave, all charitable, 
how could she do it? Such a trifling boon, 
a little work to live by, 'tis not much, 
and I might have found will enough to last : 


but where's the work? More sempstresses than 

shirts ; 
and defter hands at white work than are mine 
drop starved at last : dressmakers, milliners, 
too many too they say; and then their trades 
need skill, apprenticeship. And who so bold 
as hire me for their humblest drudgery? 
not even for scullery slut; not even, I think, 
for governess, although they'd get me cheap. 
And after all it would be something hard, 
with the marts for decent women overfull, 
if I could elbow in and snatch a chance 
and oust some good girl so, who then perforce 
must come and snatch her chance among our crowd- 

Why, if the worthy men who think all's done 
if we'll but come where we can hear them preach, 
could bring us all, or any half of us, 
into their fold, teach all us wandering sheep, 
or only half of us, to stand in rows 
and baa them hymns and moral songs, good lack, 
what would they do with us ? what could they do ? 
Just think ! with were't but half of us on hand 
to find work for... or husbands. Would they try 
to ship us to the colonies for wives? 

Well, well, I know the wise ones talk and talk : 


"Here's cause, here's cure :" "No, here it is and here :' 
and find society to blame, or law, 
the Church, the men, the women, too few schools, 
too many schools, too much, too little taught : 
somewhere or somehow someone is to blame : 
but I say all the fault's with God himself 
who puts too many women in the world. 
We ought to die off reasonably and leave 
as many as the men want, none to waste. 
Here's cause ; the woman's superfluity : 
and for the cure, why, if it were the law, 
say, every year, in due percentages, 
balancing them with men as the times need, 
to kill off female infants, 'twould make room; 
and some of us would not have lost too much, 
losing life ere we know what it can mean. 

The other day I saw a woman weep 
beside her dead child's bed: the little thing 
lay smiling, and the mother wailed half mad, 
shrieking to God to give it back again. 
I could have laughed aloud : the little girl 
living had but her mother's life to live; 
there she lay smiling, and her mother wept 
to know her gone ! 


My mother would have wept. 

Oh mother, mother, did you ever dream, 
you good grave simple mother, you pure soul 
no evil could come nigh, did you once dream 
in all your dying cares for your lone girl 
left to fight out her fortune all alone 
that there would be this danger ? — for your girl, 
taught by you, lapped in a sweet ignorance, 
scarcely more wise of what things sin could be 
than some young child a summer six months old, 
where in the north the summer makes a day, 
of what is darkness... darkness that will come 
to-morrow suddenly!; * Thank God at least 
for this much of my life, that when you died, 
that when you kissed me dying, not a thought 
of this made sorrow for you, that I too 
was pure of even fear. 

Oh yes, I thought, 
still new in my insipid treadmill life, 
(my father so late dead), and hopeful still 
there might be something pleasant somewhere in it, 
some sudden fairy come, no doubt, to turn 
my pumpkin to a chariot, I thought then 
that I might plod, and plod, and drum the sounds 
of useless facts into unwilling ears, 



tease children with dull questions half the day, 
then con dull answers in my room at night 
ready for next day's questions, mend quill pens 
and cut my fingers, add up sums done wrong 
and never get them right ; teach, teach, and teach — 
what I half knew, or not at all — teach, teach 
for years, a lifetime — // 

And yet, who knows? 
it might have been, for I was patient once, 
and willing, and meant well ; it might have been 
had I but still clung on in my first place — 
a safe dull place, where mostly there were smiles 
but never merry-makings ; where all days 
jogged on sedately busy, with no haste ; 
where all seemed measured out, but margins broad : 
a dull home but a peaceful, where I felt 
my pupils would be dear young sisters soon, 
and felt their mother take me to her heart, 
motherly to all lonely harmless things. 
But I must have a conscience, must blurt out 
my great discovery of my ignorance ! 
And who required it of me ? And who gained ? 
What did it matter for a more or less 
the girls learnt in their schoolbooks, to forget 
in their first season ? We did well together : 
they loved me and I them : but I went off 


to housemaid's pay, six crossgrained brats to teach, 
wrangles and jangles, doubts, disgrace... then this; 
and they had a perfection found for them, 
who has all ladies' learning in her head 
abridged and scheduled, speaks five languages, 
knows botany and conchology and globes, 
draws, paints, plays, sings, embroiders, teaches all 
on a patent method never known to fail : 
and now they're finished and, I hear, poor things, 
are the worst dancers and worst dressers out. 
And where's their profit of those prison years 
all gone to make them wise in lesson books? 
who wants his wife to know weeds' Latin names ? 
who ever chose a girl for saying dates ? 
or asked if she had learned to trace a map? 

Well, well, the silly rules this silly world 
makes about women ! This is one of them. 
Why must there be pretence of teaching them 
what no one ever cares that they should know, 
what, grown out of the schoolroom, they cast off 
like the schoolroom pinafore, no better fit 
for any use of real grown-up life, 
for any use to her who seeks or waits 
the husband and the home, for any use, 
for any shallowest pretence of use, 
to her who has them? Do I not know this, 



I like my betters, that a woman's life, 

her natural life, her good life, her one life, 

is in her husband, God on earth to her, 

and what she knows and what she can and is 

is only good as it brings good to him ? 

Oh God, do I not know it? I the thing 
of shame and rottenness, the animal 
that feed men's lusts and prey on them, I, I, 
who should not dare to take the name of wife 
on my polluted lips, who in the word 
hear but my own reviling, I know that. 
I could have lived by that rule, how content : 
my pleasure to make him some pleasure, pride 
to be as he would have me, duty, care, 
to fit all to his taste, rule my small sphere 
to his intention; then to lean on him, 
be guided, tutored, loved — no not that word, 
that loved which between men and women means 
all selfishness, all putrid talk, all lust, 
all vanity, all idiocy — not loved 
but cared for. I've been loved myself, I think, 
some once or twice since my poor mother died, 
but cared for, never : — that a word for homes, 
kind homes, good homes, where simple children 

and ask their mother is this right or wrong, 


because they know she's perfect, cannot err; 
their father told them so, and he knows all, 
being so wise and good and wonderful, 
even enough to scold even her at times 
and tell her everything she does not know. 
Ah the sweet nursery logic ! 

Fool ! thrice fool ! 
do I hanker after that too? Fancy me 
infallible nursery saint, live code of law ! 
me preaching ! teaching innocence to be good ! — 
a mother ! 

Yet the baby thing that woke 
and wailed an hour or two, and then was dead, 

was mine, and had he lived why then my name 

would have been mother. But 'twas well he died : 
I could have been no mother, I, lost then 
beyond his saving. Had he come before 
and lived, come to me in the doubtful days 
when shame and boldness had not grown one sense, 
for his sake, with the courage come of him, 
I might have struggled back. 

But how? But how? 
His father would not then have let me go : 



his time had not yet come to make an end 

of my 'for ever' with a hireling's fee 

and civil light dismissal. None but him 

to claim a bit of bread of if I went, 

child or no child : would he have given it me ? 

He ! no ; he had not done with me. No help, 

no help, no help. Some ways can be trodden back, 

but never our way, we who one wild day 

have given goodbye to what in our deep hearts 

the lowest woman still holds best in life, 

good name — good name though given by the world 

that mouths and garbles with its decent prate, 

and wraps it in respectable grave shams, 

and patches conscience partly by the rule 

of what one's neighbour thinks but something more 

by what his eyes are sharp enough to see. 

How I could scorn it with its Pharisees, 

if it could not scorn me : but yet, but yet — 

oh God, if I could look it in the face ! 

Oh I am wild, am ill, I think, to night : 
will no one come and laugh with me ? No feast, 
no merriment to-night. So long alone ! 
Will no one come? 

At least there's a new dress 
to try, and grumble at — they never fit 


to one's ideal. Yes, a new rich dress, 

with lace like this too, that's a soothing balm 

for any fretting woman, cannot fail, 

I've heard men say it... and they know so well 

what's in all women's hearts, especially 

women like me. 

No help ! no help ! no help ! 
How could it be? It was too late long since — 
even at the first too late. Whose blame is that ? 
there are some kindly people in the world, 
but what can they do? If one hurls oneself 
into a quicksand, what can be the end, 
but that one sinks and sinks ? Cry out for help ? 
Ah yes, and, if it came, who is so strong 
to strain from the firm ground and lift one out? 
And how, so firmly clutching the stretched hand, 
as death's pursuing terror bids, even so, 
how can one reach firm land, having to foot 
the treacherous crumbling soil that slides and gives 
and sucks one in again ? Impossible path ! 
No, why waste struggles, I or any one? 
what is must be. What then? I, where I am, 
sinking and sinking ; let the wise pass by 
and keep their wisdom for an apter use, 
let me sink merrily as I best may. 


Only, I think, my brother — I forgot 
he stopped his brotherhood some years ago — 
but if he had been just so much less good 
as to remember mercy. Did he think 
how once I was his sister, prizing him 
as sisters do, content to learn for him 
the lesson girls with brothers all must learn, 
to do without ? 

I have heard girls lament 
that doing so without all things one would, 
but I saw never aught to murmur at, 
for men must be made ready for their work, 
and women all have more or less their chance 
of husbands to work for them, keep them safe 
like summer roses in soft greenhouse air 
that never guess 'tis winter out of doors : 
no, I saw never aught to murmur at, 
content with stinted fare and shabby clothes 
and cloistered silent life to save expense, 
teaching myself out of my borrowed books, 
while he for some one pastime, (needful true 
to keep him of his rank, 'twas not his fault), 
spent in a month what could have given me 
my teachers for a year. 

'Twas no one's fault : 


for could he be launched forth on the rude sea 
of this contentious world and left to find 
oars and the boatman's skill by some good chance? 
'Twas no one's fault : yet still he might have 

of our so different youths, and owned at least 
'tis pitiful when a mere nerveless girl, 
untutored, must put forth upon that sea, 
not in the woman's true place, the wife's place, 
to trust a husband and be borne along, 
but impotent blind pilot to herself. 

Merciless, merciless — like the prudent world 
that will not have the flawed soul prank itself 
with a hoped second virtue, will not have 

the woman fallen once lift up herself 

lest she should fall again. Oh how his taunts, 
his loathing fierce reproaches, scarred and seared, 
like branding iron hissing in a wound ! 
And it was true — -that killed me : and I felt 
a hideous hopeless shame kill out my heart, 
and knew myself for ever that he said, 
that which I was — Oh it was true, true, true. 

No, not true then. I was not all that then. 
Oh, I have drifted on before mad winds 
and made ignoble shipwreck, not to-day 


could any breeze of heaven prosper me 

into the track again, nor any hand 

snatch me out of the whirlpool I have reached; 

but then? 

Nay he judged very well: he knew 
repentance was too dear a luxury 
for a beggar's buying, knew it earns no bread — 
and knew me a too base and nerveless thing 
to bear my first fault's sequel and just die. 
And how could he have helped me ? Held my 

owned me for his, fronted the angry world 
clothed with my ignominy? Or maybe 
taken me to his home to damn him worse ? 
What did I look for? for what less would serve 
that he could do, a man without a purse? 
He meant me well, he sent me that five pounds, 
much to him then ; and, if he bade me work 
and never vex him more with news of me, 
we both knew him too poor for pensioners. 
I see he did his best; I could wish now 
sending it back I had professed some thanks. 

But there ! I was too wretched to be meek : 
it seemed to me as if he, every one, 
the whole great world, were guilty of my guilt, 


abettors and avengers : in my heart 

I gibed them back their gibings ; I was wild. 

I see clear now and know one has one's life 
in hand at first to spend or spare or give 
like any other coin ; spend it or give 
or drop it in the mire, can the world see 
you get your value for it, or bar back 
the hurrying of its marts to grope it up 
and give it back to you for better use? 
And if you spend or give that is your choice ; 
and if you let it slip that's your choice too, 
you should have held it firmer. Yours the blame, 
and not another's, not the indifferent world's 
which goes on steadily, statistically, 
and count by censuses not separate souls — 
and if it somehow needs to its worst use 
so many lives of women, useless else, 
it buys us of ourselves, we could hold back, 
free all of us to starve, and some of us, 
(those who have done no ill and are in luck), 
to slave their lives out and have food and clothes 
until they grow unserviceably old. 

Oh I blame no one — scarcely even myself. 
It was to be : the very good in me 
has always turned to hurt; all I thought right 


at the hot moment, judged of afterwards, 
shows reckless. 

Why, look at it, had I taken 
the pay my dead child's father offered me 
for having been its mother, I could then 
have kept life in me, (many have to do it, 
that swarm in the back alleys, on no more, 
cold sometimes, mostly hungry, but they live) ; 
I could have gained a respite trying it, 
and maybe found at last some humble work 
to eke the pittance out. Not I, forsooth, 
I must have spirit, must have womanly pride, 
must dash back his contemptuous wages, I, 
who had not scorned to earn them, dash them back 
the fiercer that he dared to count our boy 
in my appraising : and yet now I think 
I might have taken it for my dead boy's sake ; 
it would have been his gift. 

But I went forth 
with my fine scorn, and whither did it lead? 
Money's the root of evil do they say? 
money is virtue, strength: money to me 
would then have been repentance : could I live 
upon my idiot's pride? 


Well," it fell soon. 
I had prayed Edward might believe me dead, 
and yet I begged of him — That's like me too, 
beg of him and then send him back his alms ! 
What if he gave as to a whining wretch 
that holds her hand and lies ? I am less to him 
than such a one ; her rags do him no wrong, 
but I, I, wrong him merely that I live, 
being his sister. Could I not at least 
have still let him forget me ? Bat 'tis past : 
and naturally he may hope I am long dead. 

Good God ! to think that we were what we were 
one to the other... and now! 

He has done well; 
married a sort of heiress, I have heard, 
a dapper little madam, dimple cheeked 
and dimple brained, who makes him a good wife — 
No doubt she'd never own but just to him, 
and in a whisper, she can even suspect 
that we exist, we other women things : 
what would she say if she could learn one day 
she has a sister-in-law ! So he and I 
must stand apart till doomsday. 

But the jest, 


to think how she would look ! — Her fright, poor 
thing ! 

The notion! — I could laugh outright or else, 

for I feel near it, roll on the ground and sob. 

Well, after all, there's not much difference 
between the two sometimes. 

Was that the bell? 
Some one at last, thank goodness. There's a voice, 
and that's a pleasure. Whose though ? Ah I know. 
Why did she come alone, the cackling goose? 
why not have brought her sister? — she tells more 
and titters less. No matter ; half a loaf 
is better than no bread. 

Oh, is it you? 
Most welcome, dear : one gets so moped alone. 



{The Doubter lays aside his book.) 

NSWERED a score of times." Oh, 

looked for teacher, 

is this all you will teach me ? I in the 

reaching my hand for you to help me forth 

to the happy sunshine where you stand, "Oh shame, 

to be in the dark there, prisoned ! " answer you ; 

" there are ledges somewhere there by which strong 


might scale to daylight : I would lift you out 

with just a touch, but that your need's so slight; 

for there are ledges." And I grope and strain, 

think I've found footing, and slip baffled back, 

slip, maybe, deeper downwards. "Oh, my guide, 

I find no ledges : help me : say at least 

where they are placed, that I may know to seek." 

But you in anger, " Nay, wild wilful soul, 


thou wilt rot in the dark, God's sunshine here 
at thy prison's very lip : blame not the guide ; 
have I not told thee there is footing for thee?" 
and so you leave me, and with even tread 
guide men along the high way... where, I think, 
they need you less. 

Say 'twas my wanton haste, 
or my drowsed languor, my too earthward eyes 
watching for hedge flowers, or my too rapt gaze 
at the mock sunshine of a sky-born cloud, 
that led me, blindling, here : say the black wall 
grew round me while I slept, or that I built 
with ignorant hands a temple for my soul 
to pray in to herself, and that, for want 
of a window heavenwards, a loathsome night 
of mildew and decay festered upon it, 
till the rotted pillars fell and tombed me in : 
let it so be my fault, whichever way, 
must I be left to die ? A murderer 
is helped by holy hands to the byway road 
that comes at God through shame; a thief is helped; 
a harlot; a sleek cozener that prays, 
swindles his customers, and gives God thanks, 
and so to bed with prayers. Let them repent, 
nay let them not repent, you'll say "These souls 
may yet be saved, and make a joy in heaven:" 



you are thankful you have found them, you whose 

is healing sin. But I, hundreds as I, 
whose sorrow 'tis only to long to know, 
and know too plainly that we know not yet, 
we are beyond your mercies. You pass by 
and note the moral of our fate: 'twill point 
a Sunday's sermon... for we have our use, 
boggarts to placid Christians in their pews — 
" Question not, prove not, lest you grow like these:" 
and then you tell them how we daze ourselves 
on problems now so many times resolved 
that you'll not re-resolve them, how we crave 
new proofs, as once an evil race desired 
new signs and could not see, for stubbornness, 
signs given already. 

Proofs enough, you say, 
quote precedent, "Hear Moses and the prophets/* 
I know the answer given across the gulf, 
but I know too what Christ did : there were proofs, 
enough for John and Peter, yet He taught 
new proofs and meanings to those doubting two 
who sorrowing walked forth to Emmaus 
and came back joyful. 

" They," you'd answer me. 


if you owned my instance, " sorrowed in their doubt, 
and did not wholly doubt, and loved." 

Oh, men 
who read the age's heart in library books 
writ by our fathers, this is how you know it! 
Do we say "The old faith is obsolete, 
the world wags all the better, let us laugh," 
we of to-day? Why will you not divine 
the fathomless sorrow of doubt? why not divine 
the yearning to be lost from it in love? 
And who doubts wholly? That were not to doubt. 
Doubt's to be ignorant, not to deny: 
doubt's to be wistful after perfect faith. 
You will not think that: you come not to us 
to ask of us, who know doubt, what doubt is, 
but one by one you pass the echoes on, 
each of his own pulpit, each of all the pulpits, 
and in the swelling sound can never catch 
the tremulous voice of doubt that wails in the cold: 
you make sham thunder for it, to outpeal 
with your own better thunders. 

You wise man 
and worthy, utter honest in your will, 
I love you and I trust you: so I thought 
" Here's one whose love keeps measure to belief 


with onward vigorous feet, one quick of sight 
to catch the clue in scholars' puzzle-knots, 
deft to unweave the coil to one straight thread, 
one strong to grapple vague Protean faith 
and keep her to his heart in one fixed shape 
and living; he comes forward in his strength, 
as to a battlefield to answer challenge, 
as in a storm to buffet with the waves 
for shipwrecked men clutching the frothy crests 
and sinking ; he is stalwart on my side — 
mine, who, untrained and weaponless, have warred 
at the powers of unbelief, and am borne down — 
mine, who am struggling in the sea for breath." 
I looked to you as the sick man in his pain 
looks to the doctor whose sharp medicines 
have the taste of health behind them, looked to 

for well, for a boon different from this. 

My doctor tells me "Why, quite long ago 
they knew your fever (or one very like) ; 
and they knew remedies, you'll find them named 
in many ancient writers, let those serve : " 
and " Thick on the commons, by the daily roads, 
the herbs are growing that give instant strength 
to palsied limbs like yours, clear such filmed sight: 
you need but eyes to spy them, hands to uproot, 
1 that's all." 

5 _ 2 


All, truly. 

Strong accustomed eyes, 
strong tutored hands, see for me, reach for me! 
But there's a cry like mine rings through the world, 
and no help comes. And with slow severing rasp 
at our very heart-roots the toothed question grates, 
" Do these, who know most, not know anything?" 

Oh, teachers, will you teach us? Growing, grow- 
like the great river made of little brooks, 
our once unrest swells to a smooth despair : 
stop us those little brooks ; you say you can. 
Oh, teachers, teach us, you who have been taught; 
learn for us, you who have learned how to learn : 
we, jostling, jostled, through the market world 
where our work lies, lack breathing space, lack calm, 
lack skill, lack tools, lack heart, lack everything, 
for your work of the studies. Such roughed minds 
we bring to it as when the ploughman tries 
his hard unpliant fingers at the pen; 
so toil and smudge, then put the blurred scrawl by, 
unfinished, till next holiday comes round. 
Thus maybe I shall die and the blurred scrawl 
be still unfinished, where I try to write 
some clear belief, enough to get by heart. 


Die still in the dark! Die having lived in the 
there's a sort of creeping horror thinking that. 
Tis hard too, for I yearned for light, grew dazed, 
not by my sight's tmuse and choice of gloom, 
but by too bold a gazing at the sun, 
thinking to apprehend his perfect light 
not darkly through a glass. 

Too bold, too bold. 
Would I had been appeased with the earth's wont 
of helpful daily sunbeams bringing down 
only so much heaven's light as may be borne — 
heaven's light enough for many a better man 
to see his God by. Well, but it is done: 
never in any day shall I now be 
as if I had not gazed and seen strange lights 
swim amid darknesses against the sky. 
Never: and, when I dream as if I saw, 
'tis dreaming of the sun, and, when I yearn 
in agony to see, still do I yearn, 
not for the sight I had in happier days, 
but for the eagle's strong gaze at the sun. 

Ah, well! that's after death, if all be true. 
Nay, but for me, never, if all be true : 
I love not God, because I know Him not, 


I do but long to love Him — long and long 
with an ineffable great pain of void; 
I cannot say I love Him: that not said, 
they of the creeds all tell me I am barred 
from the very hope of knowing. 

Maybe so; 
for daily I know less. Tis the old tale 
of men lost in the mouldy vaults of mines 
or dank crypt cemeteries — lamp puffed out, 
guides, comrades, out of hearing, on and on 
groping and pushing he makes farther way 
from his goal of open daylight. Best to wait 
till some one come to seek him. But the strain 
of such a patience! — and " If no one comes!" 
He cannot wait. 

If one could hear a voice, 
" Not yet, not yet : myself have still to find 
what way to guide you forth, but I seek well, 
I have the lamp you lack, I have a chart: 
not yet; but hope." So might one strongly bear 
through the long night, attend with hearkening 

for the next word, stir not but as it bade. 
Who will so cry to us? 


Or is it true 
you could come to us, guide us, but you will not? 
You say it, and not we, teachers of faith; 
must we believe you? Shall we not more think 
our doubt is consciousness of ignorance, 
your faith unconsciousness of ignorance ; 
so you know less than we ? 

My author here, 
honest at heart, but has your mind a warp — 
the zealot's warp, who takes believed for proved ; 
the disciple's warp, who takes all heard for proved; 
the teacher's warp, who takes all taught for proved, 
and cannot think " I know not " ? Do you move 
one stumbling-block that bars out souls from 

Heaven ? 
your back to it, you say, " I see no stone ; 
'tis a fool's dream, an enemy's false tale 
to hinder passengers." And I who lean 
broken against the stone? 

Well, learned man, 
I thank you for your book. Tis eloquent, 
'tis subtle, resolute ; I like the roar 
of the big battling phrases, like those frets 
of hissing irony — a book to read. 
It helps one too — a sort of evidence — 


to see so strong a mind so strongly clasped 
to creeds whose truth one hopes. What would I 

more ? 
'tis a dark world, and no man lights another : 
'tis a dark world, and no man sees so plain 
as he believes he sees... excepting those 
who are mere blind and know it. 

Here's a man 
thinks his eyes' stretch can plainly scan out God, 
and cannot plainly scan his neighbour's face — 
he'll make you a hobgoblin, hoofs and horns, 
of a poor cripple shivering at his door 
begging a bit of food. 

We get no food; 
stones, stones : but then he but half sees, he trows 
'tis honest bread he gives us. 

A blind world. 
Light ! light ! oh God, whose other name is Light, 

Ay, ay, always if; -thought's cursed with ifs. 
Well, where's my book? — No "ifs" in that, I think: 
a readable shrewd book ; 'twill win the critics. 


||0 not to-night, dear child; I cannot go; 
I'm busy, tired; they knew I should 
not come; 

you do not need me there. Dear, be content, 
and take your pleasure ; you shall tell me of it. 
There, go to don your miracles of gauze, 
and come and show yourself a great pink cloud. 

So, she has gone with half a discontent; 
but it will die before her curls are shaped, 
and she'll go forth intent on being pleased, 
and take her ponderous pastime like the rest — 
patient delightedly, prepared to talk 
in the right voice for the right length of time 
on any thing that anybody names, 
prepared to listen with the proper calm 

74 TIRED. 

to any song that anybody sings; 

wedged in their chairs, all soberness and smiles, 

one steady sunshine like an August day : 

a band of very placid revellers, 

glad to be there but gladder still to go. 

She like the rest : it seems so strange to me, 

my simple peasant girl, my nature's grace, 

one with the others; my wood violet 

stuck in a formal rose box at a show. 

Well, since it makes her happier. True I thought 
the artless girl, come from her cottage home 
knowing no world beyond her village streets, 
come stranger into our elaborate life 
with such a blithe and w r ondering ignorance 
as a young child's who sees new things all day, 
would learn it my way and would turn to me 
out of the solemn follies "What are these? 
why must we live by drill and laugh by drill; 
may we not be ourselves then, you and I ? " 
I thought she would have nestled here by me 
" I cannot feign, and let me stay with you." 
I thought she would have shed about my life 
the unalloyed sweet freshness of the fields 
pure from your cloying fashionable musks : 
but she "will do what other ladies do" — 
my sunburnt Madge I saw, with skirts pinned up, 

TIRED. 75 

carrying her father's dinner where he sat 

to take his noon-day rest beneath the hedge, 

and followed slowly for her clear loud song. 

And she did then, she says, as others did 
who were her like. 'Tis logical enough : 
as every woman lives, (tush ! as we all, 
following such granted patterns for our souls 
as for our hats and coats), she lived by rules 
how to be as her neighbours, though I, trained 
to my own different code, discerned it not 
(mistaking other laws for lawlessness, 
like raw and hasty travellers) : and now 
why should she, in a new world, all unapt 
to judge its judgments, take so much on her 
she did not in her old world, pick and choose 
her pleasures and her tastes, her aims, her faiths, 
breaking her smooth path with the thorny points 
of upstart questions? She is just a bird 
born in a wicker cage and brought away 
into a gilded one: she does not pine 
to make her nest in uncontrolled far woods, 
but, unconceiving freedom, chirrups on, 
content to see her prison bars so bright. 

Yes, best for her; and, if not best for me, 
I've my fault in it too: she's logical, 

76 TIRED. 

but what am I, who, having chosen her 

for being all unlike the tutored type, 

next try and mould her to it — chose indeed 

my violet for being not a rose, 

then bade it hold itself as roses do, 

that passers by may note no difference? 

The peasant ways must go, the homely burr, 

the quaint strong English — ancient classic turns 

mixed up with rustic blunders and misuse, 

old grammar shot with daring gram marlessn ess; 

the village belle's quick pertness, toss of head, 

and shriek of saucy laughter — graces there, 

and which a certain reckless gracefulness, 

half hoydenish, half fawnlike, made in her 

graces in even my eyes... there; the ease 

of quick companionship; the unsoftened "no's; 

the ready quarrels, ready makings up; 

all these must go, I would not have her mocked 

among the other women who have learned 

sweet level speech and quiet courtesies — 

and then they jarred upon me like the noise 

of music out of rule, which, heard at first, 

took the fresh ear with novel melody, 

but makes you restless, listened to too long, 

with missing looked for rhythms. So I teach, 

or let her learn, the way to speak, to look, 

to walk, to sit, to dance, to sing, to laugh, 

TIRED. 77 

and then the prized dissimilarity 

was outer husk and not essential core : 

my wife is just the wife my any friend 

selects among my any friend's good girls, 

(a duplicate except that here and there 

the rendering's faulty or touched in too strong); 

my little rugged bit of gold I mined, 

cleared from its quartz and dross and pieced for use 

with recognized alloy, is minted down 

one of a million stamped and current coins. 

My poor dear Madge, it half seems treasonous 
to let regret touch any thought of you, 
loyal and loving to me as you are; 
and you are very very dear to me, 
I could not spare you, would not change your love 
to have the rich ideal of my hope 
in any other woman; as you are 
I love you, being you. And for the rest, 
if I, my theory's too eager fool, 
mistook the freedom of blunt ignorance 
for one with freedom of the instructed will, 
and took yours for a nature made to keep 
its hardiness in culture, gaining strength 
to be itself more fully; if I looked 
for some rare perfectness of natural gifts, 
developing not changed, pruned and not dwarfed; 

78 * TIRED. 

if I believed you would be that to me 

so many men have sung by women's names 

and known no woman for, where is your fault, 

who did but give yourself as you were then, 

and with so true a giving? Violet, 

whose is the blame if, rooted from your place, 

where you grew truly to your natural law, 

set by my hand in artificial soil, 

bound to unwonted props, whose blame if you 

are not quite violet and not quite rose? 

She's happy though, I think : she does not bear 
the pain of my mistake, and shall not bear; 
and she'll not ever guess of a mistake. 

Mistake — 'tis a hard word. Well let it pass: 
it shall not wrong her: for was it in her 
or in myself I was mistaken most? 
What, I, who have been bold to hurl revolt 
at great Queen Bugaboo Society, 
did I not teach her suit and service first, 
wincing when she infringed some useless law? 
do I not wince to-day beside the fire 
at every word or gesture she shall use 
not scheduled in the warrant what to do? 
do I not bid her have the table thus, 
assort such viands, use such furniture, 

TIRED. 79 

wear such a stuff at morning, such at night, 

all to the warrant of Queen Bugaboo, 

and feel a something missing when she fails, 

a discord setting all my teeth on edge? 

Why, what a score of small observances, 

mere fashionable tricks, are to my life 

the butter on the bread, without which salve 

the bit's too coarse to swallow; what a score 

of other small observances and tricks, 

worn out of fashion or not yet come in, 

reek worse than garlic to my pampered taste, 

making the wholesomest food too difficult! 

And that which* in an ancient yesterday 

was but some great man's humour is to me 

duty by rote to-day. I had not felt 

my own life that punctilious copy-book, 

writ to stock patterns set to all a school, 

I have called usual lives, but my poor Madge 

has unawares informed me of myself. 

We can no other; 'tis as natural 
to men to take this artificial kind 
as to the flowers, which, grown in neighbour ranks, 
taste the same winds and feed on the same soil, 
to take inoculation by the bees 
of one another's dyes and be alike 
in new unlikeness to their primal types. 


Our gift is imitation and to share 

the subtle current of all sympathies; 

we breathe each other's thoughts, as in a crowd 

we breathe each other's breaths, unconsciously; 

and if there could be a mere human man 

to singly be creator, make the thing 

which none has hoped for near him, say the thing 

which none has thought beside him, were there one 

to be the god we claim in our rash word 

original, needs were he such a one 

as we call savage, one apart in woods 

and friendless deserts, planning by himself 

some first instinctive art, or questioning 

blank ignorance and wonder into thoughts. 

And as for us, the men who live in days 

when what the West has whispered finds the East 

across an ocean in a breath of time; 

when the old era's painful manuscripts, 

too choice and rare for less than sage's needs, 

reach the new era changed to daily showers 

of schoolboys' text-books raining from the press; 

when we shake hands with our antipodes 

for being neighbour to us; when, like streets 

of the city where we are burghers, half the world 

is our admitted home, the other half 

our summer pleasure-grounds outside our walls; 

we, who are scholars of all times and lands, 

TIRED. 81 

must be content, each several man, to feel 

we are no sovereign units each to rule 

the small world of himself, but knitted links, 

one drawing on the other in a chain — 

A bondage say, but have we not its worth, 

help, movement, and the chain grows lengthening on 

to span the universe? A braggart whim, 

were it a possible, if any link, 

breaking away from hundreds side by side, 

would be a separate spangle. 

Yet, alack, 
sometimes we links get drawn we know not where, 
but think there's mud about us. Still the chain 
lies in God's hands, though the sly devil comes 
and gives a crooked tug or so at times. 

Links in a chain — my metaphor goes well, 
convinces me where first I was convinced — 
links in a chain, drawing each other on: 
but never yet material metaphor 
would fit a mind's whole thought, and the hitch 

where I bid mine good-bye. Links in a chain, 
but what of hearts and wills that are in us, 
hopes, aims, beliefs? must we go measuring them 
by "the world says," "so other people think/' 


82 TIRED. 

dock our near tastes and natures to the shapes 
in common wear, make lay figures of our lives, 
as women of their bodies, to be decked 
and draped or trimmed and swathed or let go bare 
by strict indefinite despots out of sight? 
Why, let us have that freedom we accord 
inanimate things, to grow each to his kind 
and to his best, cattle and servile beasts, 
to grow each to his kind and to his best; 
but we — oh, monstrous folly — we, designed 
each man so much unlike to all men else 
as one whole kind of beasts to other kinds, 
must train and pattern our reluctant souls 
into one liveried sameness! 

Oh, I am tired! 
tired, tired, of this bland smiling slavery, 
monotonous waste of life. And, while we fools 
are making curtsies and brave compliments 
to our rare century, and, courtierly, 
swaddling our strength in trammels of soft silk, 
the rotten depths grow rottener. Every day 
more crime, more pain, more horror. We are good 
no doubt, we "better classes" — oh, we boast 
our modern virtues in the dead men's teeth 
that were our fathers — we are earnest now, 
and charitable, and we wash ourselves, 

TIRED. 83 

and have a very fair morality; 

most well brought up, in fine, of any men 

that any age has nurtured, and besides 

so equal in our manners and our coats: 

and then the classes which, though bettering, 

are not quite better yet, are the most shrewd, 

most apt, most honest, most intelligent, 

that ever the world saw yet. True all of it 

for aught I know, some of it as I think, 

but underneath — great God, how many souls 

are bom an hour as provender for hell! 

Oh horrible days! our goodness growing ripe, 
a spreading scent of sweets, but with no power 
to disinfect the spreading foulnesses; 
and by mere birth-rate vice made multiplex! 
From the murk lanes, and from the fetid courts, 
and from the shameful dens where poverty 
hobnobs with wolfish crime, out of the reek 
of lust and filth, out of the festering homes 
of pestilence and famine, the hoarse cry 
grows multitudinous, the cavernous cry 
of shame and ignorance hunger and greed 

become despair and devilishness And we 

gravely thank God for culture and new lights! 


8 4 TIRED. 

. Most horrible days : and we who know the worst, 
(or dream it, sitting in our easy chairs, 
sorry that all men have not easy chairs,) 
and would do somewhat, do it all amiss. 
We pelt our broad-cast gold into the mire, 
then comes a scramble, foul grows fouler yet; 
with a Samaritan hand we feed and feed 
the daughters of the horseleech, drunkenness 
and dissolute idleness, that cry "give, give," 
sucking the lifeblood from our people's heart; 
we pension beggars, buy the burglar tools 
and the sot gin, and pay the harlot's rent: 
societies, committees, vestry rooms, 
with fingers in our purses, lavish wealth, 
past common counting, to keep up the tale 
of pauper legions and bribe new recruits, 
sow coin that, like the pestilent dragon's teeth, 
bear us a poisonous crop of human harm : 
all all endeavours go, like witches' prayers, 
backwards against the meaning, and bring down 
the counter-curse of blessings that were asked. 

What should we do? I know not; but I think 
there's moral in a hackneyed classic tale: 
when the great gulf still yawned, after the gold 
and treasures had been thrown, there came a man 
and gave himself, and then the great gulf closed. 

TIRED. 85 

But how? how? And I know not; but I think 
if the strong pith and freshness of our lives 
were not so sucked and dried away, our span 
not maimed and dwarfed, our sight not warped 

by eating custom, petty disciplines, 
footlight perspectives cramped to suit our stage, 
if we were men, not types and portraitures 
and imitative shadows, some of us 
might learn — 

Learn, learn, and if we learned, 
saw by what boldness, or what sacrifice, 
or what endurance, or what vehemence, 
the goal of our beginning might be reached, 
the padded skeleton we call the world, 
that mumming glib Duessa who usurps 
the true world's rule and rights, would trip us up 
with half a league of silken barriers 
too soft for us to break and breaking us. 
Oh, but I know it, I, who time by time, 
fierce with the turbulent goodness of my youth, 
rushed to the clamourous call of new crusades, 
and time by time dropped baffled and worn weak 
before a rampart as of dancing pumps, 
a wind as if it blew from ladies' fans, 
till now I sit a weary man growing old 


among the ruins of his purposes, 
hopeless of any good to be by him. 

Oh, with how full a hope, when morning glowed, 
I donned my armour, who at night ride back 
foolish and broken! I have set myself 
to fight with shadows stronger than a man, 
being impalpable and everywhere, 
and striking done no hurt but to myself; 
and I have ridden at ranks in adamant 
and fallen, strained and useless, under foot; 
and I have sieged impenetrable walls 
and waited day by day till I grew faint; 
and never have I triumphed in my cause, 
whether it were a great one, or a dream, 
a pettish whim, or too divinely large: 
for if I strove against contagious ills 
cankering the core of us or but at spots 
that fleck the smooth gloss of our drawingrooms, 
and if I rose to claim some wide desire 
of general good or but my own escape 
from some small prickings of our social gyves, 
always I was against the multitude, 
against strong Custom's army plodding on, 
unconquerable, calm, like a great stream 
whose power is that its waters drift one way. 

TIRED, 87 

Tired, tired — grown sick of battle and defeat, 
lying in harbour, like a man worn out 
by storms, and yet not patient of my rest: 
how if I went to some kind southern clime 
where, as they say, lost in long summer dreams, 
the mind grows careless with sun-drunkenness 
and sleeps and wakens softly like a child? 
Would Madge be over sorry to come out 
into free loneliness with me a while? 
clear tints and sunshine, glowing seas and skies, 
beauty of mountains and of girdled plains, 
the strangeness of new peoples, change and rest, 
would these atone to her for so much lost 
which she counts precious? For she loves that 

of treadmill ceremonies, mimic tasks, 
we make our women's lives — Good heavens what 

to set the creatures to, whom we declare 
God purposed for companions to us men... 
companions to each other only now, 
their business but to waste each other's time. 
So much to do among us, and we spend 
so many human souls on only this! 
in petty actress parts in the long game 
(grave foolery like children playing school, 
setting themselves hard tasks and punishments,) 

88 TIRED. 

that lasts till death and is Society: 
the sunlight working hours all chopped and chipped 
in stray ten minutes by some score of friends 
who, grieved their friend's not out, come rustling in 
by ones and twos to say the weather's fine; 
or paid away, poor soul, on pilgrimage 
reciprocally due to tell them so: 
each woman owing tax of half her life 
as plaything for the others' careless hours, 
each woman setting down her foot to hold 
her sister tightly to the tethered round, 
will she or nill she: all with rights on each 
greater than hers... and I might say than God's, 
since He made work the natural food of minds, 
cheated of which they dwindle and go dead 
like palsied limbs, and gives to each that sense 
of beasts, who know their food, to know its work, 
choosing the great or little. 

But myself, 
have I befooled the instinct by warped use? 
for is not the fruit rotten I have found 
by all my labours; nothing to the world 
and to me bitterness? And I forget 
the strong joy of endeavour, and the fire 
of hope is burned out in me; all grows dull, 
rest is not rest and I am sick of toil: 

TIRED. 89 

I count the cost, and — 

Ready, love, at last? 
Why, what a rosy June! A flush of bloom 
sparkling with crystal dews — Ah silly one, 
you love these muslin roses better far 
than those that wear the natural dew of heaven. 
I thought you prettier when, the other day, 
the children crowned you with the meadow-sweets : 
I like to hear you teach them wild flowers' names 
arid make them love them; but yourself — 

What's that? 
"The wild flowers in a room's hot stifling glare 
would die in half a minute." True enough: 
your muslin roses are the wiser wear. 
Well, I must see you start. Draw your hood close: 
and are you shawled against this east wind's chills ? 

— _ 


IVE minutes here, and they must steal 

two more! 
shameful! Here have I been five mor- 

tal years 
and not seen home nor one dear kindred face, 
and these abominable slugs, this guard, 
this driver, porters — what are they about? — 
keep us here motionless, two minutes, three. — 
Aha! at last! 

Good! We shall catch our minutes; 
we're flying after them, like a mad wind 
chasing the leaves it has tossed on in front. 
Oh glorious wild speed, what giants' play! 
and there are men who tell us poetry 
is dead where railways come! Maybe 'tis true, 
I'm a bad judge, I've had scant reading time 
and little will to read and certainly 


I've not found railways in what verse I know: 

but there's a whizz and whirr as trains go by, 

a bullet-like indomitable rush 

and then all's done, which makes me often think 

one of those men who found out poetry, 

and had to write the things just that they saw, 

would have made some of their fine crashing lines 

that stir one like the marches one knows best, 

and the enemy knows best, with trains in them 

as easily as chariots. 

I've poetry and music too to-day 
in the very clatter: it goes "Home, home, home." 

And they'll think that sharp shriek a kinder 
than sweetest singing, when it presently 
pierces the quiet of the night and sends 
its eager shrillness on for miles before 
to say I'm no time distant. I can see 
my mother's soft pink cheeks (like roses, pale 
after a June week's blooming,) flush and wan, 
and her lip quiver; I can see the girls, 
restless between the hall door and the clock, 
hear it and hush and lean expectant heads 
to catch the rattle of the coming train; 



my father, sitting pshawing by the fire 

at all the fuss and waiting, half start up, 

dropping his Times, forgetful just so long 

that he is not impatient like the rest, 

the" tender foolish women, and, alert 

to hide how he was tempted to fuss too, 

reseat himself intent on politics; 

and Hugh — I think Hugh must be there with them, 

on leave out of his parish for a day, 

a truant from the old women and the schools 

to be at home with me for long enough 

to say "God bless you" in — I can see Hugh, 

narrow and straight in his skimp priestly coat, 

pacing the room with slow and even steps, 

and a most patient face, and in his eyes 

that over patience we all know in them 

when he is being extra good and calm. 

So little change, they write me: all of them 
with the same faces, scarce a day's mark there — 
except our little Maude who was a child 
and is a woman: little Maude grown tall: 
the little Maude I left half prude half romp, 
who, eager for her grown-up dignities, 
tried to forego her mischiefs and would turn, 
just in their midst, portentously demure 
like a tired sleepy kitten, and to-day 


wears all her womanhood inside her heart 
and has none for her manners — some of it 
for her sweet winsome face though; and a look 
that's in her portrait brings my mother back, 
though she's not like they tell me. I shall see; 
yes I shall see! soon; almost now. 

Dear home, 
to think I am so near! 

Ah, when I lay 
in the hot thirst and fever of my wound, 
and saw their faces pressing into mine, 
changing and changing, never a one would stay 
so long that I could see it like itself, 
I scarcely hoped for this. And when I felt 
that tiring weakness of my growing strong, 
and was so helpless, and the babyish tears 
would come without a thought to make them come, 
I almost knew this day would never be: 
but, oh my happy fortune, not to die, 
not even to come home among them then, 
with nothing done, a spoiled and worthless wreck 
for them to weep at softly out of sight, 
but to go stoutly to my post again, 
and do my stroke of work as a man should, 
and win them this. 


You little dingy cross, 
less precious than my sleeve-links, what a worth 
lies in your worthlessness : there's not a man 
but gladder lays you in his mother's hand, 
or wife's, than he would bring her for his gift 
the whole great jewels of an eastern king, 
and not a woman but — 

My mother, though — 
sometimes she was not strong — have I been rash, 
too thoughtless of her calm, not telling of it? 
No, I'll not wear it on me, as I meant, 
to take her first dear kisses in: we'll talk 
before I show it — in a day or two — 
perhaps to-night. 

I know she'll prize it more 
that a life saved went to the winning it. 
And tenderhearted Ellen will forgive 
my part she shudders at in the red deaths 
of battle fields a little more for that — 
How sad her letters were; I know she thinks 
we learn a heathenish passion after blood, 
and, as she said, "to throw our lives like dross 
back in our Maker's face:" but bye and bye 
I'll teach her how it is, and that we fight 
for duty, not like either fiends or fools. 


They say they are longing for my history, 
told by the fire of evenings; all my deeds, 
all my escapes; and I must clear their minds 
of fifty puzzles of the journalists, 
decide what's true, and make them understand 
the battles and the marchings: but my deeds 
have been to just be one among them all, 
doing what we were bidden as we could, 
and my escapes must have been like the rest — 
one has no time to know them; just that once, 
when I was dragging off the fallen boy, 
I knew what death was nearest as it missed, 

but I've no memory of more escapes 

except by being wounded, as they know; 
and what can I explain of battle plans 
made in the councils, whether kept or not 
I cannot tell? I only know my part 
and theirs with whom I waited at our post 
or dashed on at the word, I could not mark 
the swaying of the squadrons, the recoils 
and shifting ground and sudden strategies, 
and had no duty to be watching them. 
No, I shall make them better out in print, 
and learn in our snug study what I saw 
among the rush and smoke. 

No, I come back 



no better talker than I was before, 

no readier and no deeper, not like Hugh, 

and I must use my unaspiring wits 

to say things as I see them, going straight; 

just as a plain man's life does, tramping on 

the way that lies before one, with no whys. 

No whys; ah how that chance word takes me 
to pinafore-time — my father's well-known phrase 
"No whying, boy, but do what you are bid." 
And once my mother, when first Hugh began 
to be so clever, and had found it out 
and, pleased at it, perhaps a little pert, 
was apt to hit on puzzles, answered him 
"our nursery rule was good for afterwards, 
spared headaches and spared heartaches, and, well 

made the best heroes and best Christians too.'' 
How I can see Hugh looking down to say, 
in an odd slow tone, "I will remember that." 
And well he has remembered; never a man 
went straighter into action than our Hugh; 
he knows what side he's on and stands to it: 
if I'd a head like his, and wished to change 
soldiering for anything, I'd try to learn 
a parish parson's work to do it like Hugh. 


Will he read prayers to-night ? I'd like to hear 
my father at it, as it used to be 
before we any of us went away — ■ 
the old times back again. Oh, all of us 
will say our prayers to-night out of glad hearts. 
Oh, thank God for the meeting we shall have ! 

Such joy among us ! and the country side 
all to be glad for us. Ah well, I fear 
there's one will shrink and sadden at my sight 
among the welcomes and the happiness, 
remembering that her husband was my friend, 
and dropped beside me. But I'll go alone — 
or maybe with my mother — to her house 
and let her have the pain more quietly, 
before she sees me in our Sunday pew, 
with all the old friends smiling through the prayers 
and all but nodding, and a buzzing round 
spoiling the parson's reading " Look," and " Look/' 
"There's Master Harry come back from the war." 

Oh, how my mother's eyes will turn to me, 
half unawares, then fix upon her book 
that none may see them growing large and moist ; 
and how my father will look stern and frown, 
hiding the treacherous twinkles with the shade 
of knitted brows, lest any watching him 




should think him moved to have his son by him, 

and proud like foolish fathers; but the girls 

will be all smiles and flutter, and look round 

elate as if no other girls before 

had had a soldier brother. And old Will, 

out of his corner by the vestry door, 

will peer and blink and suck his grins in tight, 

trying to mind the sermon and not think 

what sport he has for me in the preserves. 

Plenty of birds this year, my father writes ; 

we'll see next week, and There's the long shrill 

yell ! 
Home ! all but home ! 

Oh ! there, between the trees, 
that light, our house — they're waiting for me there. 


j|H the dear summer evening ! How the air 
is mellow with the delicate breath of 

and wafts of hay scent from the sunburnt swathes : 
how the glad song of life comes everywhence, 
from thousand harmless voices, from blithe birds 
that twitter on incessant sweet good-nights, 
from homeward bees that, through the clover tufts, 
stray booming, pilfering treasures to the last, 
from sleepless crickets clamouring in the grass 
to tell the world they're happy day and night, 
from the persistent rooks in their high town, 
from sheep in far off meadows : life, life, life, 
that is the song they sing, and to my mind 
the song is very happy, very good. 
My God, I thank thee I have known this life, 



although, I doubt not, dying I shall learn 
how greater and how happier is death. 

Oh beautiful and various earth of ours, 
how good God made thee. Ah, I have lost much, 
mine is a very grey and dim earth now, 
but I can feel and hear and take in so 
the joy of present beauty to my soul, 
and then I see it there. O strange blurred mists, 
that mean the sky to me, my twilight eyes 
discern no more than you, but I see more; 
I see this gold and glowing sunset spread, 
and break the pale blue sky with flashing clouds, 
I see the shadows soften on the hills, 
and the green summits brighten one by one 
and purple in the nightfall one by one. 
Oh, seeing can be done without the eyes. • 

Are those St Mary's church-bells in the town? 
How far sound spreads to-night ! St Mary's bells, 
chiming for evensong. I would the way 
were not so over long for feeble limbs, 
and that the pathway and the still canal 
had not so like a glimmer in the dusk; 
for I could gladly feel the peace of prayer 
among the others in the quiet church, 
with silent graves seen through the open door, 


and rustling heard of slowly stirring leaves. 
And then 'tis pleasant too to hear the rhythm 
of scholars' English and of words in books : 
'tis like the voice of some rare foreign tongue 
familiar once and loved, that, howso heard, 
takes the glad ear with sweetness of old wont. 
Oh, there's no sermon now so trite and crude 
but makes for me a sort of literature : 
'tis my one echo now from that far world 
where books are read and written, my world once ; 
I listen as one listens, note by note, 
to some great symphony one knows by heart, 
played powerlessly, uncertainly, with change 
and thinner chords to suit a learner's hand, 
listening with pleasure part for what there, is 
and more for what there should be and what was 
when long ago one used to hear the strain: 
I seem to love words now because they are words. 

Not that I'll call our Vicar's sermon words: 
no, no; he loves his God and loves his poor; 
he makes his life one task of doing good; 
can such a man speak idly? What he does 
is proof to what he urges, his week's life 
soul to his Sunday preachings, his shown faith 
the key to his expoundings ; one may learn 
from such a man more things than he can teach. 


Alas, the busy patience of his life, 

eager and resolute for little things, 

strenuous on petty labours, which no voice 

shall ever herald past the parish bounds, 

which maybe those who see them do not see, 

and those whose gain they are know not for gain, 

does it not twit me with my languid years 

drifted along expectant of a day 

when all my world should thank me I had waked ? 

My world — ah, after all, a lesser one 

than I discerned when I was of it still, 

my world of men who learn and teach and learn, 

and then have only learned and taught and learned — 

my world that has forgotten me, a waif 

floated away from it on too rough tides, 

left spoiled and stranded to drop piece by piece. 

Ah me, the difference : I have not known 
what envy means unless I know it now 
when, in my helplessness, sick, blind, and poor, 
past all fulfilling now, with nought fulfilled, 
I see our Vicar, with his cheery look, 
hurried and overladen with small cares, 
glad in his work because it is his work. 
And he'll not envy me my garnered lore, 
stored up for moth and mildew; what to him 
is any wisdom but to work and pray? 


the denizens of our rustic market town, 

which ignorant strangers take, and break our hearts, 

for just a village, know no Tubingen, 

have never heard of varying codices, 

love, or love not, the Christ of Luke and John, 

and have no guess of Renan's; to their minds 

belief and unbelief are simplest things, 

mere Yes and No, and God must side with Yes, 

as kings must with the loyal. But the love 

that comes of faith and faith that comes of love, 

they can learn those of him and he can teach, 

that plain man, ignorant of philosophies 

but wise enough to do good all the day. 

Ah, why was I too weak for such a life, 

which once I might have chosen? A high life, 

full of most blessed service. 

But I thought 
it was not my life meant for me by God: 
and now I know not what I should have done, 
only I mourn that I have lived in vain, 
still daily dreaming some completed task 
that never was begun, still waiting force 
of impulse more than mine to waken mine, 
still dimly pondering "Shall I? Can I? How?" 
and waiting to be ready to begin. 


Ah tardy useless labourer in the fields, 
who waits to think what weed he shall rout first ; 
ah laggard sailor, who will not put out 
till the direct fair wind sets, for his port. 
And time will never linger, and the world 
can wait for no man, must have its wants fed 
at the want's birth-cry — soldiers to the gap 
on the hot instant, else no need of you, 
no space for you to stand in. Long long since 
I thought to have been somewhat, to perhaps 
set some regardful honour round my name, 
but surely to receive a destined place, 
a part among the workers : for it seemed 
to have so far up trod den, half alone, 
from peasant lowliness should prelude me 
a future as of one of whom they say 
" so low he was " to show how high he is. 
Dreams, dreams ! I never had the pith, the sap, 
the strong aspiring pulses; I was one 
to think, and shiver, by the study fire 
" outside is the cold boisterous sea of life 
where I will plunge to-morrow and snatch pearls," 
to wait like a late sleeper in the morn, 
that with a drowsy logic lulls himself, 
and chides his tardiness on their delay 
who will not come to tell him it is time. 


And yet I did not sleep; no, to my thought 
I always was at school for work to come : 
but these days leave us little schooling time. 
Long since, and when the wisdom of the wise 
was to accept to live one with to learn, 
and men might find their work for half a life 
in thinking silent, and the other half 
in thinking out aloud, those were my days 
I should have lived in : I came out of date : 
like a reprinted tome of theories 
made reasonably ere the science shaped, 
which, all uncut, stands on the library shelf 
amid new essays on the daily art 
born long since of the science, and men say 
"'Tis learned, curious, looks well on the shelf" 
and take its slighter useful neighbour down, 
so I showed wise and useless to the world. 

Wise with the old world wisdom grown unapt 
to this changed morrow, for the lesson now 
is to accept to live one with to do — 
the wisest wisdom plainly in this stir, 
this over crowding, this hot hurrying on, 
that make a tempest of our modern days. 
This anxious age is driven half mad with work, 
it bids us all work, work : no need, no room, 
for contemplating sages counting life 


a time allowed for solving problems in 
and its own self a problem to be solved ; 
on in the rush, or be swept out of sight, 
on in the rush, and find your place, and work. 

'Tis right, 'tis very right; not only ours 
to fit what state God gives us but what times; 
and he who is thrown out in a fierce race 
can hardly chide, " the others ran too fast." 
And, as for me, if I grow old alone, 
hid out of memory of springtime peers, 
and have my roof and food by dead men's alms, 
it is that I have been an alien son, 
a dronish servant careful of his ease, 
to the master-Present, the strong century 
that gave our lives and will have use of them. 
I knew it always, but still while I thought 
" To-morrow I go forth," the sudden Now 
had gone before I judged it had been there : 
I knew it always, but the stealthy years 
slid on while I was busy at my books, 
and when I, startled, waked and saw it time, 
lo the "Too late" which God has spoken me 
in blindness and in sickness. 

A strange life; 
fair bud, fair blossom, never perfect fruit; 



the river that seemed destined to push on 
long eager miles among its busy mills, 
among its teeming meadows and its towns, 
hemmed stagnant by some little feeble dykes, 
some trivial sand-mounds barred against its way, 
and rounding to an issueless dull pool. 

And yet, but for that wondering vague remorse 
not to have been one stronger than myself, 
I look back very kindly on my life 
so changeful yet so still, not sorrowless 
and yet not sad ; I love to think of it 
and tell it to myself like an old tale 
dear for its homely long-familiar turns. 
Oh, often I, the grey-haired palsied man, 
am yet again the child beneath the hedge, 
the village urchin, truant to his task, 
of scaring crows, to con a dog's-eared book, 
stealing his indolent scholar's luxury 
by naughty half-hours through the lonely day. 
Oh happy child, I never saw my guilt 
nor dreamed of trust betrayed and pence ill-earned, 
and it was such a joy to learn and pore 
and read great words and wonder what they meant, 
and sometimes see, as if a faint new star 
dawned on one through a dusky gap at night, 
a sudden meaning breaking on the doubt : 


poor as I was, ill cared for, with no kin 
but the sharp stepmother who, good at heart, 
for widow's duty called me hers, not love, 
and little Grace, the toddling sister thing 
she'd not let love me and not let me touch, 
who learned to scold me in her sweet babe's lisp 
and would not kiss me even when we played, 
no friends, no playmates, every way alone, 
yet 'twas a happy boyhood; not forlorn 
with the thumbed book for gossip, not forlorn 
with all the outdoor world for company. 
Oh, many and many a balmy eve like this, 
beside my pollard willows by the brook, 
I sat and watched the greyness creeping on, 
thinking 'twas pity days must end in nights 
and one must sleep away so many hours, 
losing such sweetness of the summer time. 

Dulled wistful eyes, you cannot show me now 
the brown-ribbed hill behind whose rounded slope 
my village stands among its fields of flax; 
last year I still could find it, where to me 
it seemed a smooth dusk cloud against the sky, 
could say "there lies my home," and fancy out 
the well known landmarks, and go step by step 
mind-pilgrimage among the dear old haunts; 
but now the hill and sky are both one haze, 


the dusk cloud's place is lost in larger dusk. 
Well, well, 'tis present to me none the less, 
and I am glad to feel it near in sight 
with its white winding road that, from the top, 
looks on my home, and sudden slants to it. 

My home ! and now 'tis twenty years and 
since I have journeyed down the slanting road 
and seen our envied boasts, the bridge and spire; 
yes, twenty years and • odd since the last time, 
and then they called me stranger; yet I feel 
my true home there. Not in my happy town, 
my placid scholar's town of colleges, 
where the smooth river, lagging by its elms, 
bears on its painted breast oriels and towers 
and grey monastic courts made reverend 
with elder learning and historic lives; 
not in my Cornish schoolhouse near the rocks, 
where from the granite headland, with its crown 
of glossy sward and wee white heather bloom 
and rare and southern wildflowers of the moors, 
one looked on the illimitable plain, 
the vague mysterious ocean stretching forth 
into the space and silence of the sky; 
not in the city of the million homes, 
the throbbing heart of England — No, not there, 


how could I find home there ? — those pent black 

that skyless prison room, where day by day 
my heart and head grew number, day by day 
I and my schoolboys seemed to grow less apt, 
that whirr and whirl of traffic, ceaseless change 
of unknown faces thronging to and fro ! 
my life went shrivelling there as if one brought 
some thirsty field plant maimed of half its root 
amid a ball-night glare of flashing lamps. 
And if I, even in this haven nook, 
sheltered out of the cold winds of the world, 
if here on the free hill-side, with the sounds 
of woodland quiet soothing in my ears, 
here where the dear home breezes blow to me 
over the well known meadows, yet have longed, 
like a sick schoolboy for his mother's face, 
to look on my remembered trees and fields, 
to touch them, to feel kin with them again, 
how else could it be with me in the din 
the blackness and the crowding? 

Oh my heart, 
how faint it grew long ere I grew all faint; 
long ere there came this swift decrepitude 
of too usurping age forestalling time; 
how desolate I Yelt, like a man wrecked 


on some far island in a burning clime 
where every voice clangs strangely, and all thoughts 
come to him yet more foreign than the words, 
and very kindness wears unhomeliness ; 
how in my weariness I grew to loathe 
those prison bars of roofs across the sky. 
Well, when He pleased, God gave me the release, 
gave His good way not mine, I thank Him for it. 
Yes, it is well with me: life grows mere rest — 
I sit apart and am done with the world, 
no hopes, no fears, no changes ; I have lost 
all part in aims and duties, like a tool 
blunted with little use I am laid by 
never to serve again ; I sit apart 
useless, forgotten, a lone purblind man 
hid in an almshouse — but the rest is good, 
is very peaceful, and I feel God near, 
near as I never knew Him in old days 
when yet I thought I loved Him. 

Did I not? 
Was it because I did not love Him then 
I could not choose His service ? It seems strange : 
they all said I was fit, they urged me to it: 
and there on one hand was my worldly ease 
and (if I were fit) service to my God, 
on the other, chance and my poor single strength 


to wrest a pittance from the world's clenched hand : 
yes one might say it had been granted me 
to choose both God and Mammon virtuously : 
and yet I could not — never might my lips 
have spoken the great answers "Christ has called," 
" The Holy Ghost has moved me." Day by day 
I urged myself, I prayed to hear the call, 
and the call came not. Was it want of love? 
and would my warmer heart have been more brave, 
and known a summons where I did not know? 

Ah no, there was no need for such as I, 
who have no ministering gift, no rule on minds. 
Oh, the poor souls had perished which must lean 
on such a pastor ; I, who never found 
the teacher's common secret how to write 
the accurate human lore on willing minds, 
how could I teach God's mysteries of love? 
how could I force rebellious hearts to know ? 
I, who must reason with myself an hour 
to cross a room and give a friend good-day, 
where were my ready words to greet the poor, 
my instant tact, my sympathy, command? 
Oh, rather was I one to be content, 
to be most happy, cloistered in the peace 
of some grey convent where the even hours 
go measured out by prayers and each still day 


melts stealthily to night and has but seen 
change between chapel and the studious cell. 
Had such a life been granted by my creed 

I could have snatched at it yes, even then 

before the silent too delusive hope 
died at her careless bidding. 

Susan Lee, 
you never guessed, I but half knew myself, 
how close a part you had of all my life 
from the first time my schoolboy heart grew proud 
to feel itself beat quicker at a smile. 
I loved you patiently, content to dream 
what happy fireside future should be ours 
if you should ever love me ; afterwards 
I sorrowed patiently; and in both whiles 
lived in my peace as if you had not been : 
but yet you always have been part of me, 
I cannot think upon my earlier self 
and not remember you. It was but chance 
that you were near me, following up the brook 
for water-cresses, on that birthday morn 
of my new life, when, as I basked and read, 
.the young squire's tutor came and saw my book, 
and sat with me beneath my willow tree; 
it was but chance that, for your good-girl treat, 
you went a twelve miles' journey to your aunt's 



and saw the prize-day splendours of our school 
where I stood in my class-boy eminence 
(a shamefaced hero, conscious of renown, 
and bearing such a greatness bashfully), 
and that your face, set in a window frame, 
was still the one I saw when I looked up; 
it was but chance that made your merry voice 
the one to greet me first when, all elate 
with budding freshman honours of first term, 
I came back to our village... where, good lack, 
I found small reverence for my dignities, 
and no one turned to watch me as I walked ; 
it was but chance that I could see you lead 
a romping battle, armed with pelts of hay, 
against my Gracie and her rival band 
the time I got the germ and ringingest lines 
of the Greek ode which gained my earliest prize; 
it was but chance made Grace's letter come, 
talking of only you, the selfsame day 
I heard my name sound in the topmost list, 
the very roll of fame as I thought then — 
maybe I thought it too long afterwards, 
poor lad, who fancied I had won a race 
because I gained a vantage post to start; 
yes, chance and only chance so mingles you 
with the young promise halos, but you stand 
always a star behind them, shining through, 


and, though I once was sad because of you, 
I have my happy memories of you now. 

They said you were not pretty, owed your charm 
to choice of ribbons from your father's shop, 
but, as for me, I saw not if you wore 
too many ribbons or too few, nor sought 
what charms you had beyond that one I knew, 
the kind and honest look in your grey eyes. 

Well, you chose fitlier; and you prosper well, 
and I can fancy you in your content, 
a busy prudent farmwife all the week 
and wearing silk on Sundays when you go 
to church among your children, proud to take 
your husband's arm... a man who holds his own 
and rents a few more acres every year. 

And Grace chose wisely too, the wilful girl 
I would have made a lady of — not she, 
she would not stay at school, she would not learn 
your monkey French, she would not chirp words small 
like twittering birds, she would not crotchet lace ; 
and she would marry sturdy William Ford; 
so found some rainy days at first, 'tis true, 
but they both took them with a cheery heart, 


and now she writes from their far western home 
that all goes well with them, and, as for her, 
she's happier than a queen the whole day through, 
and all the bairns as fresh as buttercups. 

Tis far away, my Gracie, far from me : 
I'd like to feel your hand in mine at last, 
for I have only you, and, as I think, 
you bear a kind heart to me; but that's vain, 
there'll be no meeting for us in this world. 
But bye and bye, my Gracie, bye and bye. 

Aye, there's the answer to one's every want, 
one's every doubt, that promise bye and bye ; 
it gives this life a beauty, as the glimpse 
between near hills of the great open sea 
gives to some inland nook among the woods ; 
it is the full completed melody 
the shifting prelude hints at. Life is good, 
but most because, in its best perfectness, 
it comes like memory of that other life 
we have not known, but shall. 

What, little one, 
my truant playmate, " Mother gives you leave 
to come and say good night for half an hour": 


well; on my knee — so. Stories must it be? 
"The story about Jesus"? Yes, my child, 
that is the best one.. ,.>. story of our peace; 
you'll know that someday, maybe. Now begins... 


OT yet! 

I thought this time 'twas done at last, 
the workings perfected, the life in it; 
and there's the flaw again, the petty flaw, 
the fretting small impossibility 
that has to be made possible. 

To work ! 
so many more months lost on a wrong tack; 
and months and months may so be lost again, 
who knows ? until they swell a tale of years 
counted by failures. No time to sit down 
with folded arms to moan for the spent toil, 
for on, on, glide the envious treacherous hours 
that bring at last the night when none can work; 
and I'll not die with my work unfulfilled. 


It must perform my thought, it must awake, 
this soulless whirring thing of springs and wheels, 
and be a power among us. Aye, but how? 
There it stands facing me, compact, precise, 
the nice presentment of my long design, 
and what is it? an accurate mockery, 
and not my creature. Where's my secret hid, 
the little easy secret which, once found, 
will shew so palpable that the pleased world 
shall presently believe it always knew? 
Where is my secret ? Oh, my aching brain ! 
Good God, have all the anxious ponderings, 
all the laborious strain of hand and head, 
all the night watches, all the stolen days 
from fruitfuller tasks, all I have borne and done, 
brought me no nearer solving? 

Stolen days ; 
yes, from the little ones and grave pale wife 
who should have every hour of mine made coin 
to buy them sunshine. Stolen ; and they lack all 
save the bare needs which only paupers lack : 
stolen; and cheerlessly the mother sits 
over her dismal blinding stitchery, 
and no quick smile of welcome parts her lips, 
seeing me come; and quiet at their play 
the children crowd, cooped in the unlovely home, 


and envy tattered urchins out of doors 

their merry life and playground of the streets. 

Oh, if it were but my one self to spend ! 
but to doom them too with me ! Never a thought 
dawns first into the world but is a curse 
on the rash finder ; part of heaven's fire 
filched to bestow on men, and for your pay 
the vulture at your heart. 

What should one choose? 
or is there choice? A madness comes on you, 
whose name is revelation : who has power 
to check the passion of it, who in the world? 
A revelation, yes; 'tis but a name 
for knowledge... and there perishes free-will, 
for every man is slave of what he knows; 
it is the soul of him, could you quench that 
you leave the mere mechanic animal — 
a sentient creature, true, and reasoning, 
(because the clockwork in it's made for that), 
but, like my creature there, its purport lacked, 
so but its own abortive counterfeit. 
We have our several purports ; some to pace 
the accustomed roads and foot down rampant weeds, 
bearing mute custom smoothly on her course ; 
some difficultly to force readier paths, 


or hew out passes through the wilderness ; 
and some belike to find the snuggest place, 
and purr beside the fire. Each of his kind; 
but can you change your kind? the lion caged 
is still a lion, pipes us no lark's trills; 
drive forth the useful brood hen from the yard, 
she'll never learn the falcon's soar and swoop. 
We must abye our natures; if they fit 
too crossly to our hap the worse for us, 
but who would pray (say such a prayer could serve) 
"Let me become some other, not myself"? 

And yet, and yet — Oh, why am I assigned 
to this long maiming battle ? Why to me 
this blasting gift, this lightning of the gods 
scorching the hand that wields it ? why to me ? 
A lonely man, or dandled in the lap 
of comfortable fortune, might with joy 
hug the strange serpent blessing; to the one 
it has no tooth, for gilded hands make gold 

of all they touch, the other is alone, 

and has the right to suffer. Not for them 
is doubt or dread; but I — Oh little ones 
whose unsuspecting eyes pierce me with smiles ! 
Oh sad and brooding wife whose silent hopes 
are all rebukes to mine ! 


Come, think it out; 
traitor to them or traitor to the world ; 
is that the choice ? Why then, they are my own, 
given in my hand, looking to me for all, 
and, for my destined present to the world, 
being what it is, some one some fortunate day 
will find it, or achieve it: if the world wait... 
well, it has waited. Yet 'twere pitiful 
that still and still, while to a thousand souls 
life's irrecoverable swift to-day 
becomes the futile yesterday, the world 
go beggared of a birthright unaware, 
and, (as if one should slake his thirst with blood 
pricked from his own red veins, while at his hand 
lies the huge hairy nut from whose rough bowl 
he might quaff juicy milk and knows it not), 
spend out so great a wealth of wasted strength — 
man upon man given to the imperious 
unnecessary labour. How were that, 
having made my honest bargain with the world 
to serve its easier and accepted needs 
for the due praise and pudding, keeping it, 
like a wise servant, not to lose my place, 
to note the enduring loss, and, adding up 
its various mischiefs, score them as the price 
of my reposeful fortunes? Why, do this, 
and each starved blockhead dribbling out his life 


on the continued toil would be my drudge, 

and not one farthest corner of our earth 

where hurrying traffic plies but would have voice 

to reach my ears and twit me guilty to it. 

But then, the wife and children : must they pine 

in the bleak shade of frosty poverty, 

because the man that should have cared for them 

discerned a way to double wealth with wealth 

and glut the maw of rank prosperity? 

Traitor to them or traitor to the world : 
a downright question that, and sounds well put, 
and one that begs its answer, since we count 
the nearer duty first to every man ; 
but there's another pungent clause to note... 
that's traitor to myself. Has any man 
the right of that? God puts a gift in you — 
to your own hurt, we'll say, but what of that ? — 
He puts a gift in you, a seed to grow 
to His fulfilment, germinant with your life, 
and may you crush it out? And, say you do, 
what is your remnant life ? an empty husk, 
or balked and blighted stem past hope of bloom. 
Well, make the seed develope otherwise 
and grow to your fulfilment wiselier planned : 
but will that prosper? may the thistle say 
" Let me blow smooth white lilies," or the wheat 


" Let me be purple with enticing grapes " ? 
God says " Be that I bade, or else be nought," 
and what thing were the man to make that choice ? 
For me I dare not, were it for their sake, . 
and, for their sake, I dare not; could their good 
grow out of my undoing? they with me, 
and I with them, we are so interknit 
that taint in me must canker into them 
and my upholding holds them from the mire : 
and so, as there are higher things than ease, 
we must bear on together they and I. 

And it may be to bear is all our part. 
I have outpast the first fantastic hopes 
that fluttered round my project at its birth, 
outgrown them as the learning child outgrows 
the picture A's and B's that lured him on; 
I have forgotten honours, wealth, renown, 
I see no bribe before me but that one, 
my work's fruition. Yes, as we all, who feel 
the dawn of a creative thought, discern 
in the beginning that perfected end 
which haply shall not be, I saw the end; 
and my untried presumptuous eyes, befooled, 
saw it at hand. How round each forward step 
flocked the delusive and decoying dreams ! 
and I seemed, while I sowed, still hurrying on 


to touch the sudden fruit, the ripe choice fruit 

to be garnered for my dear ones, mine for them: 

but long since I have learned, in weariness, 

in failures, and in toil, to put by dreams, 

to put by hopes, and work, as the bird sings, 

because God planned me for it. For I look 

undazzled on the future, see the clouds, 

and see the sunbeams, several, not one glow: 

I know that I shall find my secret yet 

and make my creature here another power 

to change a world's whole life ; but, that achieved, 

whom will the world thank for it? Me perhaps; 

perhaps some other, who, with after touch, 

shall make the springs run easier: I have read 

the lives of men like me who have so sought, 

so found, then been forgotten, while there came 

an apter man, maybe but luckier, 

to add or alter, gave another shape, 

made or displayed it feasible and sure, 

and then the thing was his... as the rare gem 

is not called his who dug it from the mines, 

but his who cut and set it in a ring. 

It will be as it will be : I dare count 

no better fortunes mine than from first days 

the finders met with, men who, howsoe'er, 

seekers and teachers, bring the world new gifts, 

too new for any value. Well, so be it : 


and now — No, I am over weary now, 
and out of heart too : idleness to-night ; 
to-morrow all shall be begun again. 
That lever, now, if — 

Am I out of heart? 
to work at once then! I'll not go to rest 
with the desponding cramp clutching my heart : 
a new beginning blots the failure out, 
and sets one's thoughts on what's to be achieved; 
letting what's lost go by. Come, foolish toy, 
that should have been so much, let's see at least 
what help you have to give me. Bye and bye 
we'll have another like you, with the soul. 


jjOOD friend, be patient: goes the world 
well, can you groove it straight with all 
your pains? 
and, sigh or scold, and, argue or intreat, 
what have you done but waste your part of life 
on impotent fool's battles with the winds, 
that will blow as they list in spite of you ? 

Fie, I am weary of your pettish griefs 
against the world that's given, like a child 
who whines and pules because his bread's not cake, 
because the roses have those ugly thorns 
that prick if he's not careful of his hands. 
Oh foolish spite : what talk you of the world, 
and mean the men and women and the sin? 
Oh friend, these all pass by, and God remains : 
and God has made a world that pleases Him, 


and when He wills then He will better it ; 
let it suffice us as he wills it now. 

Nay, hush and look and listen. For this noon, 
this summer noon, replies " but be content," 
speaking in voices of a hundred joys. 

For lo, we, lying on this mossy knoll, 
tasting the vivid musk of sheltering pines, 
and balm of odorous flowers and sweet warm air ; 
feeling the uncadenced music of slow leaves, 
and ripples in the brook athwart its stones, 
and birds that call each other in the brakes 
with sudden questions and smooth long replies, 
the gossip of the incessant grasshoppers, 
and the contented hum of laden bees ; 
we, knowing (with the easy restful eye 
that, whichsoever way it turns, is filled 
with unexacting beauty) this smooth sky, 
blue with our English placid silvery blue, 
mottled with little lazy clouds, this stretch 
of dappled wealds and green and saffron slopes, 
and near us these gnarled elm-trunks barred with 

and ruddy pine-boles, where the slumbrous beams 
have slipped through the translucent leafy net 
to break the shimmering dimness of the wood ; 



we, who, like licensed truants from light tasks 

which lightly can be banished out of mind, 

have all ourselves to give to idleness, 

were more unreasoning, if we make moan 

of miseries and toils and barrenness, 

than if we sitting at a feast told tales 

of famines and for the pity of them starved. 

Oh, life is good when, on such summer days, 
we linger in the dreamful paradise 
that lies at every door where so much space 
is left to garner in the languid air 
as grass may grow in and some verdurous tree, 
and some few yards of blueness and of clouds 
may stretch above, making immensity; 
when, lost out of our petty unit selves, 
the heart grows large in the grave trance of peace, 
and all things breathing, growing, are its kin, 
and all the fair and blossoming earth is home. 

And beauty is our lesson: for, look there, 
that exquisite curve and cluster of rich leaves, 
emerald and shadow, in that patch of sun, 
what is it but a nettle? And that knoll 
of woven green, where all fantastic grace 
of shaggy stems and lush and trailing shoots, 
and all a thousand delicate varied tints, 



are mingled in a wanton symmetry, 
what is it but a thorn and bramble copse? 
And that far plain, on which, through all the day, 
change still grows lovelier and every cloud 
makes different softer dimness, every light 
an other-coloured glory, what is it? 
a desolate barren waste, marshland and moor. 
And in some other moment, when the rain 
spurts greyly downwards on the soddening fields, 
or the dank autumn fog veils leaden skies, 
or the keen baleful east winds nip the bloom 
of frightened spring with bleak and parching chills, 
the waste, the thorns, the nettle, each would seem 
cursed with the unloveliness of evil things. 

So beauty comes and goes: yet beauty is 
a message out of Heaven; can it speak 
from evil things? I know not; but I know 
that waste and thorns and nettle are to-day 
teachers of Love, a prospect not to change, 
for use, against a fifty miles of corn. 
Can we tell good from evil you and I? 

Oh, if the men and women of to-day 
seem ill or good to us, why, what know we? 
to-morrow they, or those who follow them, 
will seem another way; and re they changed, 


•or are the eyes that see them? Let them be; 
are we divine that we should judge and rule? 
And they are not the world by several selves 
but in a gathered whole, and if that whole 
drift heavenward or hellward God can see, 
not we, who, ants hived in our colonies, 
count the world loam or gravel, stocked with flowers 
or weeds or cabbages, as we shall find 
within our own small ranges, and (being wise 
and full of care for all the universe), 
wonder, and blame, and theorize, and plan, 
by the broad guide of our experiences! 

'Twere a neat world if levelled by the ants; 
no ridges, no rough gaps, all fined and soft. 
But I will rather use my antish wits 
in smoothing just my cell and at my doors 
than join in such heroic enterprise. 

Selfish, you call me? callous? Hear a tale. 
There was a little shallow brook that ran 
between low banks, scarcely a child's leap wide, 
feeding a foot or two of bordering grass 
and, here and there, some tufts of waterflowers 
and cresses, and tall sedge, rushes and reeds; 
and, where it bubbled past a poor man's cot, 
he and his household came and drank of it, 


and all the children loved it for its flowers 
and counted it a playmate made for them: 
but, not far off, a sandy arid waste 
where, when a winged seed rested, or a bird 
would drop a grain in passing, and it grew, 
it presently must droop and die athirst, 
spread its scorched silent leagues to the fierce sun : 
and once a learned man came by and saw, 
and "lo," said he, "what space for corn to grow, 
could we send vivifying moistures here, 
while look, this wanton misdirected brook 
watering its useless weeds ! " so had it turned, 
and made a channel for it through the waste : 
but its small waters could not feed that drought, 
and, in the wide unshadowed plain, it lagged, 
and shrank away, sucked upwards of the sun 
and downwards of the sands; so the new bed 
lay dry, and dry the old ; and the parched reeds 
grew brown and d wined, the stunted rushes drooped, 
the cresses could not root in that slacked soil, 
the blossoms and the sedges died away, 
the greenness shrivelled from the dusty banks, 
the children missed their playmate and the flowers, 
and thirsted in hot noon-tides for the draught 
grown over precious now their mother went 
a half-mile to the well to fill her pails; 
and not two ears of corn the more were green. 


Tell me, what should I do? I take my life 
as I have found it, and the work it brings; 
well, and the life is kind, the work is light, 
shall I go fret and scorn myself for that? 
and must I sally forth to hack and hew 
at giants or at windmills, leave the post 
I could have filled, the work I could have wrought, 
for some magnificent mad enterprise, 
some task to lift a mountain, drain a sea, 
tread down a Titan, build a pyramid? 
No, let me, like a bird bred in the cage, 
that, singing its own self to gladness there, 
makes some who hear it gladder, take what part 
I have been born to, and make joy of it. 

Grumbler , what are you muttering in your beard? 
"You've a bird-likeness too, to shew me in; 
I take life, as a sea-gull takes the sea, 
mere skimmingly." I say no otherwise; 
'tis a wise bird the sea-gull, does but taste 
the hale and briny freshness of the spray: 
what would you have me do? plunge in and drown? 

Oh chiding friend, I am not of your kind, 
you strenuous souls who cannot think you live 
unless you feel your limbs, though 'twere by aches : 
great boisterous winds you are, who must rush on 



and sweep all on your way or drop and die, 
but I am only a small fluttering breeze 
to coax the roses open: let me be; 
perhaps I have my use no less than you. 

Ah well ! How strange that you and I, who tread 
so same a path, perceive it so unlike. 
And which sees justly? Maybe both of us: 
or maybe one of us is colour-blind, 
and sees the tintings blurred, or sees them false, 
or does not see, so misses what they shew. 
Or likelier each of us is colour-blind, 
and sees the world his own way, fit for him: 
doubtless we afterwards shall understand 
the beauty and the pain are more alike. 


HERE came a child into the solemn hall 
where great Pope Innocent sat throned 
and heard 

angry disputings on Free-Will in man, 
Grace, Purity, and the Pelagian creed — 
an ignorantly bold poor child, who stood 
shewing his rags before the Pope's own eyes, 
and bade him come to shrive a beggar man 
he found alone and dying in a shed, 
who sent him for the Pope, "not any else 
but the Pope's self." And Innocent arose 
and hushed the mockers "Surely I will go: 
servant of servants, I." So he went forth 
to where the man lay sleeping into death, 


and blessed him. Then, with a last spurt of life, 
the dying man rose sitting, "Take," he said, 
and placed a written scroll in the Pope's hand, 
and so fell back and died. Thus said the scroll: 

JLEXIUS, meanest servant of the Lord, 
son of Euphen nanus, senator, 
and of Aglaia, writes his history, 
God willing it, which, if God so shall will, 
shall be revealed when he is fallen asleep. 
Spirit of Truth, Christ, and all saints of Heaven, 
and Mary, perfect dove of guilelessness, 
make his mind clear, that he write utter truth. 

That which I was all know: that which I am 
God knows, not I, if I stand near to Him 
because I have not yielded, or, by curse 
cf recreant longings, am to Him a wretch 
it needs Such grace to pardon: but I know 
that one day soon I, dead, shall see His face 
with that great pity on it which is ours 
who love Him and have striven and then rest, 
that I shall look on Him and be content. 

For what I am, in my last days, to men, 
'tis nothing; scarce a name, and even that 


known to be not my own; a wayside wretch 
battening upon a rich lord's charity 
and praying, (some say like the hypocrites), 
a wayside wretch who, harboured for a night, 
is. harboured still, and, idle on the alms, 
prays day and night and night and day, and fears 
lest, even praying, he should suddenly 
undo his prayer and perish and be great 
and rich and happy. Jesu, keep me Thine. 

Father and mother, when ye hear of me, 
(for I shall choose so sure a messenger 
whom God will shew me), w T hen ye hear these words, 
and Claudia, whom I dead will dare count mine, 
bidding her pray she be Christ's more than mine, 
believe I loved you; know it; but, beloved, 
you never will know how much till at length 
God bids you know all things in the new life. 
Alas, you have had little joy of me: 
beloved, could I have given drops of blood 
in place of your shed tears, the cruellest wounds 
had been my perfect joys: but both my love 
and your distress needs were my cross to bear, 
Forgive me that you sorrowed. And be glad 
because you sorrowed and your sorrow was 
holy to God, a sacrifice to Him. 


Know now, all men who read or hear my words, 
that I, Alexius, lived in much delights 
of a dear home where they who looked on me 
looked with a smile, and where I did but smile 
to earn sweet praises as for some good deed: 
I was the sunlight to my mother's eyes, 
that waked their deepest blueness and warm glow, 
I was my father's joy, ambition, boast, 
his hope and his fulfilment. It may be 
I grew too strong a link betwixt their hearts 
and this poor world whose best gifts seemed to them 
destined for me, grew, when they looked on Heaven, 
a blur upon their sight, too largely near, 
as any trivial tiny shape held close 
will make eclipse against the eye it fills: 
and so, maybe, for their sake, not for mine, 
God took me from them, me, their only son, 
for whom they prayed, and trebled pious deeds, 
and took thought in this life. 

I grew by them, 
learning all meet for my estate on earth, 
but learning more, what they taught more, of God, 
and loving most that learning. And at times, 
even from childhood, would my heart grow still 
and seem to feel Him, hear Him, and I knew, 
but not with ears, a voice that spoke no words 



yet called me. And, as ignorant children choose 
"I will be emperor when I am big," 
my foolish wont was "I will be a saint:" 
later, when riper sense brought humbleness, 
I said "When I am grown a man, my lot 
shall be with those who vow their lives to Christ." 

But, when my father thought my words took shape 
of other than boy's prattle, he grew grave, 
and answered me "Alexius, thou art young, 
and canst not judge of duties; but know this 
thine is to serve God, living in the world." 

And still the days went on, and still I felt 
the silent voice that called me : then I said 
"My father, now I am no more a child, 
and I can know my heart; give me to God:" 
but he replied "God gives no son save thee 
to keep our fathers' name alive, and thus 
He shews thy place and duty:" and, with tears, 
my mother said "God gives no child save thee; 
make me not childless." And their words seemed 

more than my heart's, theirs who had rule on me. 

But still my longing grew, and still the voice: 
and they both answered "Had God need of thee 


to leave thy natural place none else can fill, 
there would be signs which none could doubt, nor we 
nor thou thyself." And I received that word; 
knowing I doubted since they bade me doubt. 

And still the days went on, and still the voice : 
and then my father said "The bride is chosen, 
if thou wilt have her; if not, choose thyself." 
And more and more I prayed " Give me to God:" 
and more and more they urged "Whom gives He us 
save thee to keep our name alive? whom else 
to stay us from a desolate old age, 
and give us children prattling at our knees?" 
and more and more they answered "Shew to us 
how He has called thee from thy certain path 
where He has set thy feet?" Wherefore I said 
"I will obey, and will so serve my God 
as you have bidden me serve Him, honouring you: " 
and they two blessed me, and we were agreed. 

And afterwards Euphemianus laughed 
" He asks not of the bride ; but, boy, art pleased ? 
'tis thy fair playmate Claudia, fair and good." 
I, who asked not because I nothing cared, 
was glad in after thinking : for the girl 
had been my playmate, and of later time 
I knew her beauty with familiar eyes 


and no more feared it than I feared the grace 

of useless goddesses perfect in stone, 

lingering dishonoured in unholy nooks 

where comes no worship more; so that I mused 

"The damsel brings no perilous wedding gift 

of amorous unknown fetters for my soul; 

my soul shall still be spared me, consecrate, 

virgin to God until the Letter days 

when I may live the life alone with Him : " 

so w r as I comforted. 

But, in the hour 
when all the rite was done and the new bride 
come to her home, I sitting half apart, 
my mother took her fondly by the hand 
and drew her, lagging timidly, to me, 
and spoke " Look up my daughter, look on him : 
Alexius, shall I tell what I have guessed, 
how this girl loves you ? " Then she raised her head 
a moment long, and looked: and I grew white, 
and sank back sickly. For I suddenly 
knew that I might know that which men call love. 

And through the tedious feast my mind was torn 
with reasonings and repentance. For I said 
" But I may love her," and kept marshalling forth 
such scriptures as should seem to grant it me : 


then would an anguish hurl my fabric down, 

while I discerned that he who has put hand 

upon the plough must never turn again 

to take the joyaunce granted easy lives* 

And bye and bye I stole away and went, 

half conscious, through the darkling garden groves, 

amid the evening silence, till I came 

to a small lonely chapel, little used, 

left open by I know not what new chance, 

where there was patterned oat in polished stones 

Peter denying Christ. I hastened in, 

and threw me on the floor, and would have prayed; 

but, in a rush of tears, I fell asleep. 

And there I dreamed : meseemed the easy years 
had slipped along, and I sat, pleased and proud, 
among my ruddy children, and I held 
my wife's smooth hand, who but so much had 

as to grow fairer in her womanhood; 
and, facing us, a carved and marble Christ 
hung on a Cross and gazed with Its dumb eyes, ' 
I looking on It : and I turned my head 
to smile to Claudia, and then looked again; 
behold Its right arm moved, and then was still, 
and a low voice came forth "Alexius, come." 


And I replied " Oh Lord I am content; 
but lo my father." 

Then my father stood, 
meseemed, beside me, leading in his hand 
a sturdy urchin, copy of himself, 
and answered "Son, my ears do hear thee called; 
and now I have this son of thine : go forth." 

And once again the voice, "Alexius, come." 

And I replied "My Lord, I am content; 
but lo my mother." 

Then my mother stood, 
meseemed, beside me, and her arm was wound 
round my wife's neck, and clinging to her skirt 
a baby boy and girl that teased and played 
and clamoured for her kisses : so she stood, 
and answered " Son, my ears do hear thee called ; 
and now this daughter hast thou given me, 
and now I have these babes of thine : go forth." 

And louder then the voice, "Alexius, come." 

And I replied "Dear Lord, I am content; 
I come." 


Then Claudia's hand grew tight in mine, 
and I looked on her face and saw it so 
as when my mother bade her look on me, 
and I replied "Oh Lord I were content, 
but lo my wife." 

And still again the voice; 
and still again her hand that drew mine back; 
and I replied " My wife : I cannot come." 

And still again the voice, "Alexius, come," 
loud and in wrath. 

And I replied " My wife : 
I will not come." 

And with that word I woke. 

I was in darkness, and the door was locked, 
(doubtless while I, asleep or tranced, lay dumb 
some one had sought me there and had not found, 
and so had gone, unconscious, prisoning me); 
I groped my way toward the altar steps, 
and thanked my God, and prayed. 

When morning broke 
I 'heard without two voices, as it seemed 
of holy pilgrims talking, and one said 


"The youth Alexius surely has fled forth 

to serve God -safelier;" the other said 

"Then doth he well; for now that better part 

shall none take from him, he shall be all God's 

and only God's, not father's, mother's, son's, 

nor any fond fair woman's." Then they went. 

But I was still there prisoned. Day moved on, 
and brightened, and then waned, and darkness came, 
broken by one white moonbeam, for an hour, 
that seemed a promise, and, in that good hope, 
I prayed, then slept. 

But when morn grew again, 
and no deliverance came, but frequent steps, 
and voices passing, I grew scared with doubts 
if, keeping silence, as from enemies, 
and by my silence dying, I should be 
self-murdered or God's martyr; and I thought 
how, maybe, at the last my fainting voice 
should vainly cry too late, and I should pass 
with none to give God's comfort. But I thought 
"If God wills even that, then let it be." 

But when the noon sun glowed I heard a hand 
touch at the door, and crouched me in a nook, 
and scarce had crouched when Claudia passed by me 



with slow steps to the altar: she prayed long; 
praying, poor child, to have me given back, 
claiming me back of Heaven, as if her right 
could equal That right, crying out for me 
by loving names, and weeping, that my heart 
went out of me towards her, wondering, 
and yearned for her. But God was pitiful, 
so that I swerved not. 

When I heard her vow 
to pray there daily, I perceived through her 
deliverance should come shortly: and I planned 
to stand within the shadow the noon light 
threw from a massive column by the door, 
and, when she had passed in and hid her face, 
get me forth softly. 

But the flesh was weak, 
and when I waked again the noon beams fell 
full on the face of Peter where he wept 
repenting; Claudia was already there. 

I thought a moment should I not come forth, 
and charge her let none know, and go my way; 
but, did she give one startled sudden cry, 
womanlike, I had been betrayed: and then 
I feared her if she wept. 


May Goci forgive 
my weak heart then, my weak heart all my days, 
which never has been so strong as not feel 
always the fall at hand, but then so weak 
that some few urgent tears and soft sad words 
might, haply might, have bought me from my God. 

So she went forth, unconscious: and I prayed 
death should not come at night, with none at hand 
to minister beside me, and in faith 
I laid me down to wait what God should send. 

And in a little while she came again, 
and sought and found a gold and emerald pin, 
(one of the gifts they made me give to her), 
dropped from her loosened hair, then, kissing it, 
passed out, and, for a moment long, forgot 
to make the door fast, turned back to the task, 
then, murmuring "Why? For it is better thus, 
when whoso wills can enter in and pray," 
left it and went. 

Then free, I made my vow 
to live unknown, unhonoured, with no ties, 
no certain home, no aims, no rights, no name, 
an unregarded wanderer, whose steps, 
by whichsoever road they passed, but passed 


to travel nearer Heaven. And, for a sign, 
I made a secret place and hid my ring 
under the altar. 

You will find it there: 
at the right hand a cross upon an A 
cut on the floor, so small you must look well, 
and near it, at the altar-base, a crack 
I found there in the chiselling, (just behind 
a cherub's wing), is closed with dust and earth; 
there lies the ring. Give it me mine again, 
it and my name I take back for my grave, 
as I take back my kinsfolk and my friends 
to pray and mourn for me and give God thanks. 

That done, I got me forth, and saw none nigh, 
(the search near home being over, as it seemed), 
and with my best poor speed I found a copse 
whose green thick tangles hid me: there I lay 
till the cool nightfall came and patient stars 
watched Earth asleep, as if they prayed for her; 
and other eyes saw not save theirs, and those 
that look from Heaven, when I came sickly forth 
and dragged my limp and failing limbs along. 

I made my clothes in tatters; thus I went 
and begged food at a convent for my life 


that else were flickered out: so they gave food, 
and they gave shelter: and at dawn I went, 
while none who could have known had looked on me, 
and, hastening on my journey, followed forth 
my fellow-Roman Tiber's seaward strides, 
and reached the port. There, as I since have learned, 
Euphemianus had left men in wait 
while he searched otherwhere : but God ruled all. 

A little ship was just launched out to sea, 
her heel still caught upon the grating beach, 
the men were good and took the pilgrim in 
who at the farewell moment called to them, 
and, in what while I know not, but it seemed 
as short as in a dream are days and years, 
I saw my shores grown narrow purple clouds, 
and then (for I write truth though shaming me) 
I broke into such weeping that the men 
felt whiteness in their cheeks, and, marvelling, 
sent whispers to and fro, in doubt of me 
lest witchcraft held me or my some deep crime 
had set a curse demoniac; and they schemed 
if they should put back to be rid of me, 
but one said "Tush ! the youth weeps for his home; 
at his age, maybe, some of us could weep ; 
let him alone." 


A rough and grizzled man, 
who after, at the haven, came and clapped 
a great hand on my shoulder, "Look, my boy, 
you keep your secrets safer: for I heard 
of a hot hunt after a great man's son, 

and when I saw you weep Well go your way, 

my tongue shall earn no wages by its blab. 

Maybe at your age I should have fled too, 

if yoked against my will; but I am old 

and preach go home again. Some say she's fair; 

and a fair woman, love her or not love, 

is a fair woman: but, or fair or foul, 

be wise, young sir, be wise; never go starve 

because your cake's not candied to your taste." 

I said "Kind friend, I have no home to seek; 

God gives me not a home till bye and bye," 

and left him. So my pilgrimage began. 


But, oh vain heart of man! can this be true 
which I remember, that I, plodding on, 
whither I did not ask me, as God willed, 
undoubting and ungrieving, yea, puffed up 
to feel my heart was numb of all regret, 
carrying upon my lips (as men will burr 
a day long some persistent measured strain) 
for refrain-catch "Now all and only God's," 
drew from my bosom, with my crucifix, 


a withered crumpled weed, a clinging thing 

that, green and dainty, new brushed from its root, 

with one white flower-speck on it, trailed its sprays 

athwart the purple hem of Claudia's veil 

the last time in the chapel while she prayed; 

it lay upon the floor when she was gone. 

A worthless grass, what good was it to me? 

and, lo, made fellow with my crucifix! 

yet surely I had done it scarce aware, 

for now I gazed on it so stupidly 

as though a secret hand had placed it there 

to set a riddle so, nor could recall 

what thought I took it with. But see what snares 

I fled from, flying Claudia; suddenly 

the thing was at my Hps, in such a kiss 

as, maybe, lovers kiss on women's mouths, 

in such a kiss howbeit as brought forth shame 

almost in its own birth. I hurled the weed, 

the viperous thing, into the battling surf 

that dragged and sucked the booming shingles 

lashing the beach before a coming storm; 
I hurled it forth and went. 

It seems to me, 
looking back now, as if that made an end. 
I think I had no temp tings afterwards. 


Natheless my grief was bitter many times 
remembering home: but that I felt not sin, 
because 'twas as a soul among the dead 
might sorrow, never wishing to come back. 
And Claudia was not of my memories: 
scarcely at all: a stray bad dream at night 
would bring her to me, make me dream I wept 
because I might not love her, but not dream 
that I did love; in daytime she came not. 

Ten years I wandered: who cares know the 
a pilgrim and alone I trod my way, 
no man regarding me. Alone with God: 
whether in deserts or the throng of towns; 
whether upon the mountain-tops, whence earth 
shows sometimes so too exquisite for man 
as though the devil had leave to fashion it 
and cozen us with its beauty; or below, 
where in the valleys one beholds the hills 
grow nearer Heaven at sunset; or my ears 
full of the hymn of waters, where the sea 
breaks at one's feet among the rough brown rocks ; 
whether in pain, in weariness, in fear, 
or, thankful, taking comfortable rest; 
always alone with God. 


So for ten years : 
and in the later of them I had peace : 
so for ten years, and then, by what degrees 
I know not, (for the stupor crept like sleep, 
slowly yet sudden on one at the last), 
my peace became a blankness. And one day 
I sought to rouse me, questioning "Where is God?" 
and could not weep because I found him not, 
yea, could not rouse me. Arid my prayers were 

like trite goodmorrows when two gossips meet 
and never look for answers; and my praise 
was rounded like the song the poet makes 
to one who never lived for him to love. 
I was my Pharisee to cheat myself 
and make myself believe me that God's friend 
I had forgotten what it felt to be. 

So, when I saw this plainly, I took thought, 
pondering how it should be that when I pined 
for thirst of human love I loved God more 
and felt His love more near me than when now 
my heart was swept and garnished, void for Him : 
at last I saw my need of quickening pain 
to stir the sluggish soul awake in me, 
and knew I offered nothing to my Lord, 
offering Him that it cost me nought to give; 


what good to turn to Him, "Lord I leave all," 
if all be noway precious ? 

I arose 
and set my face to Rome, making all haste. 

On the forty-seventh day I saw the sun 
droop to the hills behind my father's house, 
and lo, while I toiled up the rude ascent, 
our last slope of the Aventine, there came, 
riding apart and grave, from the far side, 
Euphemianus. When he reached the gate 
he entered not, but seemed to point me out 
to the servitors that followed with his hawks, 
and watched me coming upwards painfully. 
And when he saw me footsore and so spent 
he had compassion : ere my prayer was done, 
"Food, my good lord, and rest, for charity," 
he bade them take me in. 

Six years ago : 
and now I die here. No one bade depart; 
they gave me daily scraps, and let me live 
in the shed for harbouring squalid wanderers 
that sleep a night, and take their alms, and go. 

None knew me; who should know me? Gone 


past ten years since, a comely petted boy, 
and now a half decrepit sickly wretch, 
a lean and shrivelled carcase, the ten years 
writ twenty on my leathery wrinkled face, 
how was I their Alexius? Nay, they looked 
and saw the stranger in the beggar's shed 
they called, for want of name, Old Lazarus. 

In the beggar's shed with God : with God again ! 
Oh exquisite pain that brought so exquisite joy ! 
even by instant peril to be lost 
lo I was saved. Oh blessed exquisite pain ! 
my heart awoke for anguish, and felt God. 

I saw my father pass out and pass in; 
sometimes he noted me and spoke a word 
or looked a careless greeting, oftenest not; 
I saw him daily, and I learned his face 
how stern long sorrow made it and how still, 
and, when some days he could not make a smile, 
I heard the servants whisper " Do you see? 
this is his lost son's birthday," or "the day 
his son fled forth," or else "his baptism," 
"confirming," "going to school," all such home 

as parents count who watch their children grow : 
and he was changed, they said, cared not to see 


friends' faces greeting him, nor join in talk, 
but would be solitary; changed, they said, 
since that strange losing of his only child. 
My mother I saw not in the first days, 
for she came never forth, but sat and slept, 
and wakened querulous, and slept again. 
And Claudia tended her : I had not thought 
to find her here ; I looked she'd count me dead 
and marry her, ('tis known what women are), 
and was all startled when I saw her first : 
but only for the strangeness, after that 
she was no more to me than I to her, 
she might have smiled to me, or in my sight, 
that dangerous smile and I be no more moved 
than if a babe had laughed as I passed by. 

Then a day came, a still and sultry day 
when one might take count of each leaf that stirred 
and think the one shrill grasshopper too loud, 
my mother waked and heard a hymn I sang, 
and took a whim to have the singer brought: 
only a whim, belike, for could my voice 
bring back the stripling's voice she had thought 

sweet ? 
they fetched me, I stood by her: ah my mother! 
and she so changed ! nothing of her old self; 
the goodliness, the sweetness, the delight, 



gone, waned out from her, as the light of day- 
was waning from her eyes long dulled by tears. 
Ah, could I but have clung about her feet, 
crying out " Mother, take thy son again ! " 
But yet for her it would have been too late. 

. She talked to me, inconsequent grave talk 
like children's, whispered after when I prayed, 
and made me sing her hymns, so was content 
longer than was her wont, then bade me go 
and come again to-morrow : ever since 
she calls me every day. 

And every day 
is Claudia there. More than two thousand days, 
and every day I look on Claudia's face 
grown wistful and more sweet, and every day 
behold her patience, hear her wise grave words, 
and better know her all she is. 

What then? 
Have I not striven? have I not prevailed? 

And now death is at hand : some few days more 
and I shall lay me down and be at rest. 
There will be no farewell at last, I think; 
they will not know of me that I lie sick 
and pass away; and, even if they knew, 


why should they come to close my dying eyes? 

the beggar Lazarus can die alone, 

as he has lived alone. My mother, though, 

will lack me, ask for me, Claudia will send 

to bid me hasten, then the word will come 

" He died this morning," and she will not weep 

but say "Poor wretch: God rest the parted soul," 

and turn to soothe my mother with some wile 

to make her never miss me : and may be 

Euphemianus will not hear the news, 

or will not note it if he ever hears. 

So I shall lie in the grave and they not care, 

but wait for lost Alexius to come home, 

and mourn for him, half hating him for their grief. 

Give me fruit, give me fruit, oh Christ give 
my earned fruit, 
for all my sufferings : I have mine for me, 
but I claim theirs, give fruit for them I smote. 

Have I written wildly ? I will cancel nought : 
for I have written looking death in face, 
thinking God bade me write : and words come so 
must stand untouched. But surely this much grace 
my Lord hath given me, that they shall know. 

Behold, I make this paper, being forced 


as by the Spirit, and it comes on me 

that God doth choose his highest in the world 

to be the beggar's messenger : he first, 

and I the last, so thereto he is called; 

servant of servants. This, which I have written, 

do I entrust to him, my testament : 

some shall learn patience from it and to do 

what God bids and not doubt; for all is good, 

all happy, if it be to do His will, 

the suffering ye may guess, but not the bliss 

till ye have tasted it. 

And I desire 
that, having scanned the scroll, he shall, or then 
or later, as seems to his wisdom wise, 
deliver all its words to them and her, 
my father and my mother and my wife, 
(lo, this once in my life I call her so). 
I pray Thee, Lord, give the poor words the power 
to comfort them and strengthen ; and, I pray, 
give the words power to strengthen and stir souls 
which hear Thee call and pause to count with Thee. 

And now, oh Lord, let earth be dim to me, 
and Heaven come near mine eyes : the time is short, 
and I am fain for thee. Lord Jesus come. 


jOWj when Pope Innocent had read the scroll, 
he bade one with him enter in the house 
and call the lord Euphemianus thither, 
and Claudia, and Aglaia. So they came, 
Aglaia feebly leaning on the two, 
and questioning them who knew not ; so they 

came ; 
and the Pope pointed them to the dead man, 
" Behold, for this is one whom you should know." 
Euphemianus gazed and was perplexed : 
and the poor purblind mother gazed and peered, 
" Old Lazarus ? no, yes, old Lazarus ; 
asleep or dead ? Why is it ? is he dead ? " 
but Claudia answered softly " Yes I know ; 
I knew it;" and then, suddenly, borne down 
by one strong gust of passion, flung herself 
beside the corpse, her head upon its breast, 
her arms clasped straining round it, weeping out. 
And Innocent answered the fathers eyes, 
" This was Alexius, thy long lost son." 
But yet the father, stricken dumb, looked doubt : 
Aglaia cried " My boy, where is he then ? " 
and fretfully " This is old Lazarus : 
where is my boy? show me Alexius." 


Then Innocent bade peace, and read the scroll : 
Euphemianus, with his face hid down 
between his hands, listened and never stirred ; 
and Claudia listened, weeping silently; 
but Aglaia whispered always "Is it true? 
is the tale of Lazarus or of my boy? 
I cannot understand." And, when 'twas read, 
Euphemianus gazed upon his son, 
"Yet did he well?" he said "he was our son, 
he was her husband: how could it be well? 
for look upon his mother, what she is." 
But Claudia rose up tearless, and replied 
"Alexius did all well: he knew God called:" 
and Innocent, not tearless, raised his hand 
and spoke "She answers wisely: he obeyed; 
he knew, being a very saint of God: 
let us bless God for him." And they all knelt. 
But still Aglaia could not understand. 








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